It’s strange how some music, left unlistened to and unloved for years, can suddenly make sense when returned to. Like many, Confield both confused and repelled me when it came out. Autechre had been steadily moving away from their listener-friendly electronica into more and more experimental realms, but by and large I went happily with them. But Confield sounded like they’d crossed the bridge from inquiry into total insanity, and I wasn’t about to follow. Whichever way I wore it, the album resolutely refused to make sense, but ended up just giving me a headache. Happily, I found the later albums easier to get on with, and dismissed Confield as a sonic diversion that Booth and Brown needed to get out of their system, and I didn’t need to hear again.
Curiosity getting the better of caution, I gave the CD a spin for the first time in getting on for seven years today. I was really rather shocked at how easy it was to listen to. OK, the beats often go completely overboard into a kind of rhythmic Tourette’s Syndrome, and there are some sections that are, frankly, just electronic gibberish. But in amongst it all, there are some passages of outstanding beauty – they just need a minor adjustment of your ears to accommodate the strangeness. The opening track “VI Scose Poise” is a good example. The foreground is a complicated melange of micro-glitches and what sounds like a ball-bearing rolling around in a steel cone. It takes a little getting used to, admittedly, but behind this is a rather sad, wistful melody that gives the track a human feel not immediately apparent. Other tracks like “Sim Gishel” also have some buried heart beneath an outward veneer of impenetrability. I’m sure there are many like me who have copies of Confield that just sit there – passed over in favour of Chiastic Slide or Tri Repetae every time. It’s worth returning to. Give it another try!