Autechre Exai

Even so far back as 2002, a new Autechre release continued to hold the promise of a music paradigm shift. Now that the sounds they'd cook up by duping their gear can be approximated with a flavour-of-the-week plugin, however, they no longer come off as the innovators they once were. The criteria by which each subsequent Autechre release is judged is moot, leaving listeners to face the music, so to speak. But the fact remains that they're still making very interesting music. Yes, Exai's duration is imposing and, taken superficially, there's little in the way of surprises. But deeper listening reveals much to be excited about, and surprised by, happening in the fabric of the music. Each cut lures the listener into a rich, peculiar, circuitous journey. Some tracks exude the lumpy danceability hinted at on their last release, Move of Ten, while others follow new trajectories into their trademark abstraction. Some of Exai also evinces an unapologetic enthusiasm for melody and harmony, lacking the self-defeating waywardness of Oversteps. They may no longer be cutting edge (who is these days?), but Autechre's intricately psychedelic pieces are still chock-full of detail, intrigue, wit, intensity and poise — all the things that made them so great in the first place. (Warp)