Autechre Reverse Engineering

Robbie Martin

Robbie Martin (as known as Fluorescent Grey) is a musician and provocateur who has become famous as a producer of fake material. He was responsible for the video of an American soldier’s beheading in Iraq (actually the “victim” was his friend Ben Vanderford aka The Great White Hype), which was distributed in popular p2p platforms like Kazaa and Soulseek and was picked up by different authoritative media sources around the world. This experience informed Martin’s awareness of the incredible power of the internet to facilitate the circulation of (true or false) news and the ease with which it is possible to produce a faked appearance of reality. Thinking along these lines, Martin promoted a fake Autechre album called “Untitled” consisting of his own tracks. Many fans of the Warp Records’ superstars were taken in by the stunt, provoking much resentment from the Autechre duo. Sean Booth was particularly vocal in his criticism of the fake version, suggesting the project was irrelevant. Booth’s reaction has been cited by Martin as the principle cause of what he defines as a “childish retaliation”. Martin’s version consisted of reverse engineering some Autechre tracks and distributing them as Max/MSP patches. Moving beyond any remark concerning the legitimacy of these kind of actions (and beyond any discussion of Autechre’s famous awkwardness) the most interesting aspect here is that for many amateurs it represents the chance of producing their own version of some famous tracks, or- to use Martin’s words – taking a glance behind the curtain.

Vito Campanelli