Autechre – Sign review

Fittingly for 2020, Sean Booth and Rob Brown – collectively Autechre – recorded SIGN in a bunker, albeit a virtual one. It came as less of a surprise that this fortified maze of equipment and ideas is a sanctuary they call “The System” and has been in existence for almost a decade.

When you’re one of the pioneers of a global movement, whether people call it ambient techno, electronica or the idiomatic phrase intelligent dance music, it’s acceptable for both hermit like behaviour alongside some mythos building. Despite rarely granting interviews however the duo have taken their increasingly technical, algorithmic work out live on a reasonably frequent basis and even issued a wealth of archive material from the period in and around the creation of their benchmark album Incunabula, released by the Warp label in 1993.

SIGN is a shift back towards the more melodic construct of those early albums, juxtaposing skittering beats, languid sound washes with frosty ambience. Opener M4 Lema begins with a noise like the key to their inner sanctum being turned, but there are real moments of dexterity amongst the patches the duo trade as their process, from si00’s over clocking tempo to au14’s glitchy wow and flutter. Spotters will also notice a passing resemeblance to their contemporaries Boards of Canada on the darkly wonderous psin AM, but deep down in The System, Sean Booth and Rob Brown continue to ambitiously map out Autechre’s unique footprint on a musical world they helped create.

You can read a full review here.