Flutter, A Track Review. By Autechre.
Famed English electronic music duo Autechre (pronounced /ɔːˈtɛkər/ aw-tek-ər) has been responsible, in part, for pioneering Intelligent Dance Music (commonly referred to as IDM for short). IDM is a genre of music, and loosely defined term, but is categorized by ambient techno, downtempo, and electronic dance music with greater amounts of personality and abstractness.
Fun fact: Nobody knows how to properly pronounce their name because it has never been verbally said by either of the band-mates.
In the late 90’s Autechre first signed onto a label called Warp Records which had a massive influence on the underground electronic music scene at the time. Autechre have used this label to release all of their past subsequent albums and EPs. I highly recommend visiting the label’s website if you’re at all interested in this type of music.
You can do so here: http://warp.net/
Anti EP: This phenomenal extended play not only is an exemplary work of electronic music but also has its origins rooted in history. Although this information is not necessarily required to appreciate the music, it certainly adds an element of awe and has tremendously increased my respect for Autechre. Noting their immense and skill, Autechre is looked upon by many, including other electronic artists, as musical vanguards because of their adamant progression and controversial risk taking projects.
The Anti EP was created to be a protest against the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, which would prohibit raves (described as gatherings where music is played, with “music” being defined as a “succession of repetitive beats”). In Washington D.C., where rave culture was especially popular at the time, many public gatherings were violently disbanded by law enforcement agents, resulting in frequent arrests. Fans were afraid to indulge in electronic music because of the bias surrounding raves; police considered raves to be the source of drug abuse, violence, chaos, vandalism, private mischief, etc… This prompted congress to take action, and it 1994 they passed a law that infringed upon the american people’s freedom of expression.
The album’s packaging for both compact disc and vinyl variants bore a sticker with a disclaimer about the repetitive nature of the rhythmic elements of “Lost” and “Djarum”. However, the third track, “Flutter”, was programmed in such an ingenious way to have non-repetitive beats and therefore “could be legally played at both forty five and thirty three revolutions per minute;” but following their disclaimer, it was advised that DJs, “have a lawyer and a musicologist present at all times to confirm the non-repetitive nature of the music in the event of police harassment.” The sticker acted as a seal, which was required to be broken in order to access the media enclosed in the packaging. The second half of the sticker featured information about Liberty, with this last statement: “Autechre is politically non-aligned. This is about personal freedom.”
Despite “Flutter[‘s]” ability to be played at two different speeds on vinyl, the CD version contains the song as played at 45 RPM. “Lost” and “Djarum” are featured at their standard 33 1⁄3 RPM speed. At 33 1⁄3 RPM, “Flutter” would be around 13:26 in length. Fans often fight over which version is better, as they are noticeably different. The shorter track played at 45 RPMs is a hard-hitting breakbeat with an infectious groove while the longer track played at 33 1/3 RPMs is more mellow and tends to reveal underlying elements of the track’s complexity.
The track is aptly named, with various percussion elements oscillating rapidly within the mix. When the main melody is introduced, its soft, nimble chord progression offers stability that contrasts the wavering and often unstable drum patterns. The slower version of the track is pitch shifted as a result of the RPM difference. If you listen carefully you can more precisely hear the attack and decay of the synthesized percussion. There is an astonishing, and I mean ASTONISHING, amount of detail worked into these tracks. It is not possible to digest it entirely after one listen. So take my advice… and have these looped on repeat. Their lack of repetition allows for endless, boredom-free listening.
By: Lucas philipp