‘Sign’ is Autechre’s first new album-album proper since ‘Elseq’ and contains some of their most emosh compositions in eons, perhaps since ‘Tri Repetae’. Practically pocket-sized in comparison to their sprawling torrent of live material and radio recordings in recent years, ’Sign’ is a return to the sort of concision found circa ‘Exai’ and their earlier albums. Effectively they’ve gotten better to grips with their live set-up, and the hyper ideas found in their work-in-progress demonstrations on the five volume ‘Elseq’ and 8hrs of ‘NTS Sessions’ have been refined into moments of crystalline ambient baroque beauty and liquid-limbed swag on ’Sign’.
After their music has undergone what could be called a growth spurt in recent years, the acrid plasma of their complex, hyper-inorganic systems feels to congeal, create more intricate snaps across the album, from the lush cosmic collisions of ‘M4 Lema’, to the rhizomic arp weaving on ‘F7’, while refining their tendons and muscle in the gyrostep of ‘au14’ and ‘such.mefd2’. The anthropomorphisation of their synthesis accelerates with the album’s 2nd half with the elegiac catharsis of ‘Metaz form8’ displaying a greater emotional intelligence, while their shapeshifting synthesis grows semblances of glowing hair and teeth and skin in ’th red a’, and even a plaintive human heartache in the systolic thud and bloo pads of ‘psin AM’ that rawly bleeds out in the album’s future classic closer ‘r cazt’.
This LP was hinted at by Autechre as one of two albums ready for 2020, so we’ll take it this is their “U Ok Hun?” one to some possibly more hardcore turns in the future. Have it.