As far as gigs for a Dallas electronic musician go, it simply does not get bigger than this. On Tuesday, influential “Intelligent Dance Music” duo Autechre announced their first North American tour in a decade, in support of their 2013 album Exai. Support for the tour comes from Rob Hall and, more significantly for local music fans, Dallas' own Cygnus.
Autechre are among the elite of Warp Records' artists. Along with Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Plaid and Chris Clark, they have set the bar for innovation through the genre begrudgingly referred to as “Intelligent Dance Music,” or IDM for short. It's a tag many of those artists refute, but it accurately describes the groundbreaking music they have pioneered. IDM has its roots in the infamous 1992 Artificial Intelligence compilation for Warp Records that Autechre was a part of. More of an ideology than an actual genre, those acts did not adhere to any specific genre rules and were known for pushing the technology as far as it could go.
Last year Autechre dropped the Cygnus track “Tis Thine the Kingdom” in a 12-hour DJ mix for a radio broadcast. In hindsight, it was an early sign of what was to come. “6 weeks ago Sean [Booth of Autechre] mailed me asking if I wanted to play," Cygnus recalls. "I was like, 'How is this even a question?' Sean frequently changes his online alias so I initially thought I was being trolled, but I checked the chat log and made sure it was him.”
Cygnus has been making waves in the Dallas electronic music scene since his first live appearance over a decade ago, but his music has consistently made greater impact in the international community with releases on various Japanese and British labels. Cygnus’ tunes have even popped up on the charts and mixes of respected techno legend Dave Clarke.
Cygnus had initially formed a kinship with Autechre (consisting of Booth and Rob Brown) when he started sending them his music. “I have been sending my music to Sean for at least 11 years — just over the internet with email and stuff," Cygnus explains. "Sean has always turned me on to a lot of old-school electro and sci-fi music from the '70s and '80s — movies, comics, books and stuff.”
Cygnus operates in a niche subgenre of techno and hip-hop known as electro (not to be confused with the more EDM-centered electro house). Electro has its roots in the early '80s with artists like Africa Bambaata and is defined by the use of the TR808 drum machine. The music was further pioneered by the likes of Detroit electro musicians Drexciya, an act that has admittedly also had a huge impact on Cygnus’ music.
"I’ve been meeting other people to make electro and they are a lot like me, in personality and in other ways too," Cygnus says, reflecting on his music. "There’s a shared distribution of similar thought forms and ideas, political and spiritual. It just seems like a very natural thing. It feels like what I’m supposed to do with my life.”
Unfortunately, the tour is not coming to Dallas. To witness Cygnus opening on this highly anticipated tour, you will have to make the trek to Austin on October 13 when he'll be playing at Vulcan Gas Company.
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09-24 Portland, OR - Holocene
09-26 Vancouver, British Columbia - Imperial
09-27 Chicago, IL - Metro
10-01 Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre
10-02 Montreal, Quebec - Theatre Fairmount
10-03 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Masonic Temple
10-04 Boston, MA - Paradise
10-05 Portsmouth, NH - 3S Artspace
10-06 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
10-07 Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall
10-08 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
10-09 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
10-10 Orlando, FL - The Social
10-11 Miami, FL - Grand Central
10-13 Austin, TX - Vulcan Gas Company
10-15 Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre
10-16 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine
10-17 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theate