“Let’s get physical, physical…”
You ignore the sweaty proclamations of Olivia Newton John at your peril, but that’s what the plucky Autechre chaps have gone and done; releasing their new album Quaristice (Warp) for download a full six weeks before its physical street date. Just as Radiohead cannibalised their sound for 2000’s Kid A, now the plagiaristic circle is complete as the duo of Sean Booth and Rob Brown tip their bleeping hats to Yorke et al by offering up a digital version of the album well ahead of its proper March release.
Sean Booth discussed his preference of digital vs. physical
Speaking to Clash ahead of Quaristice’s unveiling, Sean Booth discussed his preference of digital vs. physical; “It makes no odds to me. Actually, it does; I’d prefer (people) to download it than buy it physically. It fits our agenda much better that way. Our plan has never been to produce CDs - it’s always been about making music. If there’s a way of charging for it and getting the content to people, then we’ll adopt whichever is the most transparent. The actual product is the FLAC file – but I don’t object to those who want to own something that they can hold”
Free of the anti-piracy software that traditionally accompanies digital music, Booth is emphatic that such measures are draconian. “I don’t understand people who are DRM (Digital Rights Management) freaks. Sabotaging people’s equipment for financial reasons?! It doesn’t make any sense. People who have bought it legally should be treated accordingly. This latest album was the first we’ve sent out with watermarks in for promo use. It was more of an experiment than anything, to see how long people took to regard it as a political act. Not long at all as it happens… Basically – as long as I can make a living at it, I’m happy”
Do you worry about how people will listen to the album when they’ve downloaded it? “What can you fucking do about that? I mean, I’ve listened to our music through shit laptop speakers before and it sounds alright. Ideally we’d have people experiencing it first through a high quality source and subsequent listens would draw on a lot of memory anyway. So the first counts, then people tend not to listen as closely. It depends a lot on what drugs you’ve taken as well I suppose… I have personal standards, but I would never try to force them on other people”
If you favour a tacit record over a file extension, Booth disclosed that the deluxe edition would be accompanied by sleeve art from the acclaimed Designers Republic. “Our brief was really, really specific” he explained “the idea was to be type based, neat and producty. We knew if we went to our normal designer he’d take the piss as he’s just so creative he’d cut it right down. Designers Republic understood us immediately and the result is stunning”
"Basically – as long as I can make a living at it, I’m happy"
As to how the record holds up against their back catalogue, Booth chooses to cordially deflect such introspection; “At the moment it’s an entity that I struggle to get past. It takes a long time to make it hold together as an entity, but now we’ve done that I hold up that conceptual framework as a whole. It protects me from dissecting it over and over in my head. There are obviously bits of it that I prefer to other bits, but they change every time I hear it…”
Read the full interview with Autechre in Issue 25 of Clash, out March 6th.