AUTECHRE: Quaristice (Versions) (Warp Records)


Posted on Apr 16th 2008 11:15 pm

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Autechre: Quaristice (Versions)

Quaristice (Versions)
Warp Records 2008
11 Tracks. 67mins49secs

By now, listeners have had some time to digest Quaristice, the latest release from Autechre, and the new (yet also classic) approach they’ve taken this time around. In contrast to the longer, more spaced-out and fleshed-out ideas found on their previous three albums, Quaristice features twenty tracks, most clocking in at less than four minutes, featuring, alternately, spastic explosions of percussion and sampling, or lush ambient synthesizer arrangements. With Quaristice (Versions), a bonus disc released with the limited edition of Quaristice, Autechre offer a glimpse at a version of the album more in line with Untilted or Draft 7.30. There are eleven tracks here, many of which last longer than seven minutes, allowing the sequences and ideas from Quaristice more time to evolve.

Starting the set off is Altichyre, taking the warm pads from Quaristice’s Altibzz and morphing them into something far more menacing. Altichyre features a more dissonant sound, and is basically a slightly modified Altibzz patch playing a different melody. Following this is The PlclCpC, stretching the four-minutes of original The Plc to almost ten. The drum sequence is allowed a bit more breathing room to develop and stutter, while a new, squelchy, synth line is thrown over the track, along with different patterns of the original synth. The transition to the second part of the piece is more graceful in this version, with the vocal sample (which sounds vaguely like someone shouting “hey yo!”) coming in gradually, before being granulated into submission.

Similar to The PlclCpC, Perlence range3 presents Perlence in a more gently drawn out form, starting out slowly and softly, rather than with the immediate full-on sequence from Quaristice. Eventually, Perlence range3 transforms into a lovely mash of polyrhythm and erratic cuts from its heavily reverberated main synth line. 90101-61-01 casts 90101-5l-l in a very different light, with a greater accentuation on the sampling detritus and pulsing, 4/4 beat (it’s almost techno, really). Additionally, the acidic bass and synth-cuts of the original are gone, replaced by a subdued, meandering pad bass.

Given the track length similarity to previous albums, it’s appropriate that Quaristice (Versions) features a greater collection of identifiable and well-developed beats. Perhaps it’s the short track length, but Quaristice is more notable for it’s ambient and abstract pieces than for locking on to any of Autechre’s trademark grooves. While Quaristice’s Fol3 is an onslaught of seemingly arrhythmic noises, fol4 almost triples the length of the track, and reveals a new semblance of rhythm to the madness. In contrast, chenc9, one of the strongest tracks from Quaristice, is doubled in length and rhythmically deconstructed as chenc9-x. The first four minutes replicate chenc9, followed by a breakdown to a dilatory, lazy beat, which is garnished with a few subtle complexities before fading out. It’s clear that chenc9-x is the genesis of chenc9, with Autechre simply scrapping the second half for the proper album.

Given that Quaristice (Versions) is only available (legally) to a small handful of people, the million-dollar question is, should it have been released in the place of Quaristice? Given that parts of Quaristice felt more like sketches than finished ideas, the individual tracks on Quaristice (Versions) certainly feel more complete. Then again, wasn’t that part of the uniqueness and charm of Quaristice, put up against the Autechre catalogue? Both albums work well as discrete statements; neither version requires knowledge of the other to “get” what’s going on. There’s really no definitive answer here, but given the quality of Quaristice (Versions), it’s a shame that it has yet to be given a widespread release.


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3 Responses to “AUTECHRE: Quaristice (Versions) (Warp Records)”

  1. bloomer_auon 02 May 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I started listening to versions before the album proper (by mistake I mistook them for each other) and I still prefer it. Autechre have angled their music in 1000 different ways over the years but if there was a single defining thing about it that I always like, it’s the length, development and complexity of the tracks. It’s actually what attracted me to the whole IDM genre in the first place. So I wonder if there’d ever be a time when I would really prefer a 20 track Quaristice to the versions one. I guess only the passing of a long time will show me. Maybe what would happen is I’d just have to think of it as a different genre.

  2. David Abravanelon 03 May 2008 at 9:43 am

    There’s no question in my mind, that Quaristice (Versions) is the more accessible release, at least for fans, who have been used to long tracks. My best guess is that, by making an album with shorter tracks (and giving those tracks less time to flesh out), Ae were trying to challenge themselves and break up the formula. In the end, I think it’s good for people who are interested to hear both discs, which is I think it’s a shame that Versions hasn’t been released as a download yet.

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