Once you shove the disc into the machine it’s a good minute before anything audible creeps out of the speakers. And even this is a slowly approaching electro cinematicpiece of music, with a tagged-on scratchily irritated, muffled beat.
A somewhat curious, hesitant start.
With ‘Oversteps’, the pioneering abstract and tricksy Manchester electro twosome’s tenth studio album, released 2010, there is a return to a brand of curveball melodisicm and subtle(ish) form of beat multiplexes. Generally, there is not much by way of punishing beat complexity this time, or even brute force headspin conundrums. At least when compared to much of what Ae had been putting out during the previous decade.
The 14 tracks on offer here neatly average around the 5-minute mark, this a kind of welcome bout of time management after previous record ‘Quaristice”s 20 tacks ranging between 2 and seven-minutes in length. That record, a welcome relief all the same, did though show signs of the more accessible Autechre up ahead.
‘Oversteps’ is in some respects a return to nineties Ae. Of sorts. Similar in mood and approach to 1995’s career classic ‘Tri Repetae’ or 1998’s also wonderful ‘LP5’.
Listening to the awkward component interplay of Qplay, for example, it is almost making the point that the LP is as ambient and measured a record as thus far produced. It all seems less maddeningly neurotic than they’ve sounded for a while. Almost, dare one say it, ambient in approach. Likewise See On See, a track of high-end colourful chordal sequencing, held together by a join-the-dots bass rhythm. The moodier, muttering Os Veiz3 is underhand, industrial and tricky-curio, while St Epreo is a befog, delightfully complicated piece of extra-terrestrial informed electronica.
And yet, despite this very piece attempting to sell ‘Oversteps’ as one of Ae’s more easy listening sets, Resident Advisor, in their review, still had time to refer to some of it as “more aggressive Plaid”. Hmm.
With ‘Oversteps’ it’s as if the melody has been handed more room to inspire, to lead rather than follow. And it’s one of Ae’s more recent worthiest works as a result.