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Interview: Autechre

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For more than twenty years IDM pioneers Autechre (AKA Rochdale duo Sean Booth and Rob Brown) have been serving up their trademark electro-weirdness, and March 22 will see the release of their tenth studio album, Oversteps. autechre

There is familiarity here; the garbled, cryptic, and perhaps a little tongue in cheek, track names will be recognisable to even the casual Autechre fan, and the songs themselves clearly display the attention to detail and depth that follower have come to expect.

However, compared to much of their work post-Untitled, this is more ambient and much less beat-driven, bringing to mind 1994's Amber. Sean Booth, though, denies that this is deliberate.
"We didn't really have a plan...we never really know where we're going." Instead he claims that this is just an accident of the way the pair work in the studio.

"We do a fair amount of tracks without a beat anyway, but we did more this time I think, or more that we wanted to release. It's just a matter of the tracks that we liked most at the time really and wanted to put out."

However, despite this relatively laid back attitude, Autechre are remarkably hard-working. The album isn't even out yet and the band are already working on the live sets for their upcoming tour.

"With the live sets you have to have a little more intention," says Booth, "because you have less time to do it and you make them for a specific purpose. I like to think of the live stuff and the records as two different things. They're like two separate threads that we've been working on since we started out, and we try to build on what we've done before.

"I like the live stuff because you get to hear it on a massive soundsystem. I'd like to do that with the album stuff too but I don't think there's a club that would play our music."

They're making good progress too; he reports that "in terms of material, we're about half way through, but a lot of that is programming so we're probably 80% finished in terms of effort."

And after the tour?

"We'll probably take a break for a bit and then do a few one-off dates over the summer. Spend some time at home with family for a while and take the pressure off for a couple of months, because it's hard to justify spending more time with a drum machine than with your family, and then maybe go back to the studio nearer the end of the year and see where things go. It's too early to talk about releasing anything though; this one hasn't even come out yet."

Continuing on the topic of the release, Sean adds: "About a month ago the label played the record to some industry types in a club. I really wish I'd been there because the speakers there are huge. I mean ours are pretty big but those are fucking massive."

Booth is also very pleased with some of the critical reception to the new record.

"We usually don't pay much attention to critics, but this time round it's been really good. I'm a big fan of Paul Morley too so it was great that we got him to write the press release. Art of Noise are a big influence and we have a lot of respect for him, and it's also really good to get an outsider's perspective. I like it when we get compared to bands I haven't even heard of, it's nice to see where we fit in culturally."

Autechre's place in pop culture is an odd one. They are arguably as important as contemporaries like Richard D. James and Tom Jenkinson of Squarepusher fame, but have a much lower profile. They have been merging techno with a range of influences for nearly two decades and have never really achieved the fame of some of their peers, but this seems to suit them fine. In the end they seem to be two mates from Greater Manchester who just love doing what they're doing, and with any luck they'll continue for many years to come.

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