Autechre has a rare standing among the canonical acts on Warp, as the group continues to confound fans and impress newcomers, even after its stylistic preferences have fallen out of fashion. Inextricably linked with Warp's foundational experimentalism, the duo of Sean Booth and Rob Brown didn't stagnate after the early success of twitchy classics like Incunabula and Tri Repetae; instead, the outfit has put forth a new Autechre LP practically every two years since 1993. L-event is the follow-up to Exai, the pair's mammoth double album from earlier this year, and it's akin to a tank of freezing water to the face in subzero weather. Even in a community currently saturated with purposefully raw and ragged productions, the artillery on L-event is an affirmation of Autechre's continuing caustic individuality.
A few weeks ago, Autechre staged an innovative streaming of L-event, which accurately translated the EP's energy by transforming internet browsers and web pages into geometric gobbledigook before eventually morphing into the cover art. Even without these visual pyrotechnics, listening to L-event offers a similarly confrontational experience, a puzzle that nastily reshuffles whenever it nears completion. "Tac lacora" disintegrates into a flurry of broken beats after each moment of relative calm, with intimations of a sloping groove interrupted by a tinnitus-inducing piano segue into "M39 Diffain." Given the overwhelming belligerence and abrasion of L-event, it's tempting to write it off as a introverted exercise in algorithmic composition and digital alienation, but Autechre's music accurately reflects the modern tumult and information overload of a caffeinated, motorized humanity.
"Osla for n" skitters into arrhythmia after an initial talkative funkiness that suggests two men with crushed larynxes communicating over a staticky radio. What sounds like a bowed cello elongates alongside church bells, with cauterized drones shapeshifting underneath. "Newbound" has a surprising tenderness beneath the requisite squawks and feints, with a descending three-note squeal that recalls Boards of Canada, even with the song's chaotic intrusions. Still, L-event can't really be defined by individual bits of noise, however exhilarating they might be. The EP is an exhausting listen, one that offers an experience of immersion, not itemization. Autechre hasn't lost a step, and this EP is certainly memorable. Actually enjoying the bombardment, however, is another question altogether.