"But it's all fixation in a way, because it's not like if you buy a synth, then everything is going to change."
The progression of drum 'n' bass and dub techno met such a fate, being outstripped from within by idle bandwagoners who capitalized on the mechanics but not the soul of the genres' originators: Dillinja, Ed Rush, and Jeff Mills, or the highly influential Basic Channel label. "Unfortunately, there are loads of idiots waiting in the wings to capitalize on that originality," Booth laments. "I think the whole electronic scene is really conservative now, and safe. In the early days when Xenakis and Cage and Stockhausen were first discovering these sounds, it was absolutely terrifying."
Autechre has always tried to maintain a certain minimalist craftsmanship in response, according to Booth. And it is apparent in Quaristice that they have put as much emphasis on flow, narrative, and rhythm as bricolage, creating a sophisticated "live" feel throughout. While some punters might say Autechre has now returned to the safety of its roots after mining the difficult territory of computer processing and software algorithms, Booth is quick to point out that most of the gear they have used of late is identical to what they used before. "It's just much more reactive," he says. "I'm making decisions based on what Rob just did and vice versa. In a way it's more rewarding than spending six months programming something that's very elaborate and complex in a different way."
And if there is one descriptor we might use to encapsulate Booth and Brown, it would never be "safe." In their tireless soundtracking of a subterranean past and underground future, Autechre continues along an innovative path of music with as much heart as hardware.
With Massonix and Rob Hall
Sat/5, 9 p.m. doors, $18
444 Jessie, SF
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