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Sunday, May 29, 2005




The often derided genre label "intelligent dance music" was coined to lend critical legitimacy to a kind of nonmelodic techno that seemed willfully avant garde and devoid of style. In fact, considering how often flagship IDM artists like Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada flouted 4/4 time signatures, calling it "dance" music seemed like a joke, unless you danced with three legs.

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By hiding behind the name Autechre, giving their songs unpronounceable titles, and covering their albums with abstract expressionist art, Sean Booth and Rob Brown certainly seem to buy into the image of IDM as a haven for eggheads. Actually, you can dance to their blips and glops and skritchy backgrounds, though probably not as easily as you could in the 90s, when their hip-hop influences were more apparent.

But even then, their approach was more neurological than cerebral. They understand how texture works on people in terms of sound, but they also know what it is about pop music that gets under your skin.

Booth and Brown always come up with combinations and layerings that lodge themselves in the back of your mind as stubbornly as a clever jingle.

Though not as witty as Boards of Canada, Autechre is more immediately accessible, and unlike more conventional techno acts they don't need break beats or volume to do their emotional work for them. Their new album, "Untilted," is big-hearted and friendly, with plenty of open spaces for you to dive right in and do what you want, like dance.

On their upcoming Japan tour, Autechre will be joined by LFO, Rob Hall, and Russell Haswell. June 10, 10 p.m., Club Citta, Kawasaki (Beatink, [03] 5766-6571); June 11, 10 p.m., Bayside Jenny, Osaka (Smash West, [06] 6535-5569). 6,000 yen advance, 6,500 yen door.

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