My memories of this late night low-light event are somewhat fragmentary. The first is of the approach, down a nondescript side street off Cambridge Heath Road. As we got closer, you could feel the ground trembling. A rattle, getting louder. Giant metal warehouse doors were shaking. Truth be told, I was pretty fucking scared. That was partly due to the fact that I’d never seen Autechre live before, and was doing so with some trepidation due to incredibly mixed reports about this tour, about how dreadful the Manchester show was, about how incredible Brighton was. Or was it the other way around? It may even have been both, simultaneously. I had however seen Russell Haswell before, so had some idea of the terror that awaited me there.
The second memory is of being drawn towards the speakers when Haswell appeared on stage, only to be repelled by an outpouring of piercing metallic shards. This was the most astringent of palette cleansers, obliterating the memory of the preceding DJ set with a ferocious sonic assault. It felt as if he’d saved all of the harshest and loudest off-cuts from recent Haswell and Hecker UPIC releases – no need for dynamics, just extremes of volume and frequency: for twenty minutes he pummelled us with huge square waves and squeals, like the sound of an electric guitar being shredded and then fed into a fax machine. Afterwards I felt strangely euphoric, and soaked up the DJ’s soothing reggae riddims like an empty sponge.
The third memory is of the middle of Autechre’s set when, having been induced into near-trance by a relentless beat, there was a flash of near-silence. Literally, a flash: a strip light flickered unexpectedly (Autechre famously don’t do lights) into life for a few seconds, bathing the warehouse in eerie industrial glow. I wobbled about dazed and dizzily, trying to comprehend what was going on, wondering who had stolen my all-enveloping darkness, listening to the buzz of the warehouse’s pipes and metal fittings. Until that point, Autechre had been in imperious form, daubing the merest flecks of Oversteps colour (occasional slices of synth squawk and single twangs of processed strings) onto a monolithic construction held up by huge, regularly-spaced techno columns. Mimimal music played at maximum volume, and to maximum effect:at times I you could dance to this, before the music would thump itself into something lop-sided leaving me you shuffling about jerkily like a fool, not that anyone could see me you thankfully, other than in that single moment of bright white light.