UG Team, on august 05, 2003 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Overall Impression: Autechre's Sean Booth and Rob Brown return with their seventh full length since 1993's noteworthy ambient techno beat-fest Incunabula. Draft 7.30 furthers the duo's singularly experimental musical evolution (some might say it also furthers its artistic alienation from its core fanbase, as the pair maps out continuously more idiosyncratic and outré soundscapes) while gesturing back to earlier work. Sporting more noticeable melody than 2001's spiky, hollow Confield (which, to be fair, improves with repeated rotations), Draft 7.30 covers a vast amount of electronic ground, from Booth and Brown's '80s hip hop -inspired roots to the more spacious, emotively impersonal cuts dominating their later work.
Tracks 2 and 4 ("IV VV IV VV VIII" and "VL AL 5," respectively) trade on the beat-mulch sound Autechre perfected on Tri Repetae, the duo's 1995 high-water mark. Track 2 utilizes a blender effect, shredding sound in a concentrated whirl against a squelchy, discordant beat, while 6 sports more of a vibrating surface sheen, undercut by darkly insinuatory tones. Both songs break apart at the end, giving way to chaos as the beats fall apart in haphazard, disorderly fashion, which is certainly a welcome and interesting climactic effect from an outfit known for rigid control over every aspect of its carefully constructed sound.
Track 1 ("Xylin Room") is vintage Autechre, circa 1994's Amber, with a smoothed and stretched-out beat, straining but never breaking, which throws a digital curve ball around the 4:30 mark with the introduction of nervier tones and bleats. This opening salvo produces more raw energy than the far more subdued Confield did in its entirety. Track 8 ("P.:Ntil") plies jarring beats and Spartan synth-driven pulses to great effect, as does the subsequent "V-Proc," which recycles and regurgitates a basic clang-skitter-clack cycle in an arresting and potent manner. The closing "Reniform Puls" provides an appropriately mellow comedown, layering a less abrasive beat over languid and soothing samples.
But it's Track 5 ("Surripere") which proves both the longest and most effective moment on Draft 7.30. Executing a dense, rich, shifting tidal flow of tones over a clean, metronomic beat, it generates a disorienting sense of motion and paralysis within the same elastic yet constrictive space. At near eleven-and-a-half minutes, it's afforded a luxury only "Reniform Puls" enjoys: sufficient room to breathe. Brown and Booth clearly put an enormous amount of energy into this track, and it shows. "Surripere" alone justifies the purchase of 7.30; it's one of the duo's best tracks to date. Not that the rest of Draft 7.30 is a letdown: The only true disappointment is Track 4, ("Tapr"), a brief, hyperactive start-stop diversion that roars out of the gate but never achieves lift-off, turning in on itself with intense, but ultimately pointless, redundancy.
While not the revolutionary leap forward many fans all but demand, Draft 7.30 is still a solidly crafted effort, and, dare we say it, a more accessible work than the duo's last album. Not so much a retardation of Autechre's skills as a commendable tribute to where it's been and a mediation, perhaps, on which direction the trend-bucking pair is headed next. // 8