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Move Of Ten Angus Finlayson , July 16th, 2010 15:57

Hot on the luxurious reverb tails of March's Oversteps, Autechre return with what is ostensibly an EP, though its length (ten tracks across 48 minutes) suggests something slightly more substantial. The timing brings to mind Quadrange, the EP of versions released to accompany 2008's album Quaristice, but there's no evidence that Move of Ten is a similarly parasitic project. Instead, it occupies a distinct - though admittedly overlapping - stylistic space to its immediate predecessor. What's that I hear you ask? Is this a collection of mis-matched off-cuts from a larger and altogether more fully-formed project?

Well, sort of. But in the best way possible.

The opening clutch of tracks suggest a return to the beat-driven ethos of Autechre-past, but augmented with the sparkling, resonant hi-end which made Overstepssuch a sonic delicacy. And in line with a sense of economy the duo seem to have developed in recent years, everything's more concise, more pinned down; gone is the protracted, ultra-compressed percussive barrage of, say, Confield (their 2001 ‘difficult album'), replaced with layer after luscious layer of detail and daubs of bright, synthetic colour. Midway through the EP, more overt references to Oversteps burble into the foreground; Iris Was A Pupil and No Border showcase the intriguingly directionless melodic noodling which defined the album, providing a welcome slide into introspection without disrupting momentum overmuch.

At points, Move of Ten could almost be considered - dare I say it - straightforward. M62 is pinned firmly to the pulse by an ever-present muted kick drum, over which bass and melodic lines tumble casually in a manner which comes tantalisingly close to making sense on the first listen; it's perhaps not the most exciting thing Autechre have made, but diverting nonetheless. Elsewhere, deviant 303 squelches emerge from the recesses of a collective consciousness which grew up through Acid House, perpetuating the fascinating dialogue between Booth & Brown's earthen roots and the wild esotericism of their output.

The whole thing's over in a flash which, after having been wrapped up in Oversteps for so long, is an odd sort of relief (even for a paid up fan such as myself). Perhaps concision is a skill Booth and Brown are intent on honing further, but this EP feels like it's said all it needs to say in under 50 minutes; no mean feat for an act whose offerings have rarely fallen short of a full hour. And while, at times, listening through Move of Ten may feel like a brief jaunt through past glories, it's fundamentally its own man; light of touch and impressively well-formed. A worthy footnote in the annals, I say.