Aphex Twin
Albums

  • Selected Ambient Works 1
  • Selected Ambient Works 2
  • I Care Because You Do
  • Richard D James
  • Drukqs
  • Chosen Lords
  • Syro








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    album reviews

    Aphex Twin

    Related Artists - Autechre, Orbital, The Orb
    Related Genres - Electronica

    Selected Ambient Works 85-92 ( 1992 )
    Xtal / Tha / Pulsewidth / Ageispolis / i / Green Calx / Heliosphan / We Are The Music Makers / Schotkey 7th Path / Ptolemy / Hedphelym / Delphium / Actium

    Modern day classical music, a bloke messing around with electronics in the seclusion of the Cornish countryside, a genius, a man with ideas above his station so off his trolley he drives his own personal tank around the land surrounding Twin Towers. Take your pick, really. Richard D James ( aka Aphex Twin ) early in his career produced a bunch of Techno ( check out the superlative "Didgeridoo" ) as well as a bunch of what can only be classified as 'ambient' music. Now mention ambient and people will spring up 'A-Ha! Brian Eno!' and the conversation surrounding the relative merits or otherwise of Aphex Twin will get lost in a tribute to the balding professor of rock music that is Brian Eno. Fact is this music owes absolutely nothing to the music of Brian Eno. Richard D James as I mentioned earlier was very much in seclusion growing up in the Cornish countryside. Whilst that doesn't mean it's impossible he listened to Brian Eno non-stop through his childhood, it does added to the fact the music of Brian Eno has NEVER been mentioned by Richard himself render any attempts to marginalise or lessen the impact of the very singular music of the Aphex Twin less of an issue altogether. A complete misunderstanding in fact. Ok, so ambient wasn't invented by the Aphex Twin. But ambient is only the half of it, anyway. A certain something is happening here. Ambient is a stripping away of everything to leave the bare essentials, often a single melody line with 'atmospheric' new age sound effects over the top. That isn't at all what is happening here. Lets take opener "Xtal" as an example. Little electronic shuffling cymbal sounds, a melody line, a soft bass beat - sampled heavenly female 'da da, do da' ethereal vocal sounds. The main melody line continues, a second appears underneath. In effect you get two ambient songs layered over the top of one another. Other melody lines appear. Second song "Tha" stretches a single beat and rhythm over nine minutes and layers variations over that beat. "Pulsewidth" sounds truly otherworldly, a sound that could only have been achieved by the Aphex Twin. Why? He build all of his own instrumentation. There is little technological or 'cold' sound here as a result. "Pulsewidth" in particular sounds very human, very analogue, and not at all 'digital'.

    I won't go through all of the pieces on this album. They are in places difficult to grasp and pin down, difficult to hold onto if always beautiful. There is a sense of the music shifting and changing, floating off altogether. We do get "Green Calx" with a mess of electronic noises over a strong melody line and the beautiful one minute long "i" which points the way towards this records follow-up set. Every single piece here is melody based rather than based just upon its feel or atmosphere. Yeah, this is ambient music, I mean, it can't easily be classified as anything else. But, as I've said, there is much else going on here. A startling entry in the mind and music of Richard D James as well as a highly recommended work in its own right.

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    Rupert Greaser xeernoflax@juno.com
    Richard D. James was born in 1971: is we're talking '85-'92, it means all of these tracks were written between the ages of 14 and 21 -- I've never owned a proper copy of this CD, so I don't know if it's listed in the album sleeve, but I do wonder which tracks on here were written at fourteen. Anyway, this is a majestic CD, still among the few best of the whole electronica shtick, and probably still my own favourite from the Twin, though its exceptional sequel seems to have slowly usurped the popular vote: I prefer this one because, more than being "ambient works" these are actual songs, rich in texture and detail. "Xtal" is gorgeous, unassuming: both that and "Tha" are easily among my favourite songs. "Actium" is also probably the best of James' MegaMan-ish compositions. I remember seeing Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory for the first time since being a child and understanding the whole "We Are the Music Makers" sample. An easy 10 for me. It's "ambient" sure, but Eno's ! space-y "Ambient" records were never as diverse as this. Of course, if Eno had access to this sort of synth/techno technology in his hey-day, he might have churned out something as good. But this is techno -- it's about the PULSE.


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    Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 9 ( 1994, UK pos 11 )
    Cliffs / Radiator / Rhubarb / Hankie / Grass / Mold / Ropes / Blur / Weathered Stone/ Tree / Domino / White Blur 1 / Blue Calx / Parallel Stripes / Shiny Metal Rods/ Grey Stripe/ Z Twig / Window Sill / Hexagon / Lichen / Spots / Tassels / White Blur 2/ Match Sticks

    A double CD album (!) consisting of twenty four songs reaching two and a half hours of playing time. The CD and packaging lists no song titles, each song is referred to by abstract pictures only arranged in such a way it's difficult even to work out which picture refers to which song or even, which song on which CD! So you don't get a lot to go on, externally. We know little about the character or personality of the author of these songs bar the fact he's meant to be some sort of electronics whiz, he lives in Cornwall and is formally named Richard D James. This album follows on logically from his debut in some ways, but sounds like it was recorded twenty years later not just a few years hence. Everything is both more advanced and more stripped back. There are hardly any 'beats' on this record - it's pure melody with soft relaxing lines, sound effects created electronically and the odd sampled snatch of a human voice. The opening "Cliffs" ( I'll use the track-listing that comes up on RealPlayer when I put the CD in the drive! ) is all shifting melodies and relaxed percussion, like a gently flowing water. "Radiator" employs a single ( what words do I even use?! ) electronically created melody, just three or four notes strung together, repeated and repeated again, dropped in pitch, raised in pitch. A second melody appears over the top of this, again, very bare, just a single line, just another three note melody. The melodies continue on together, two different melodies, two different melodic threads. Sound effects and variations continue for six minutes and that's it. That's all it is. Well, I've made some sort of attempt at describing it. It's never dull for a single second. Those two simple little melodies are almost child-like yet strangely and beautifully relaxing. The subtle variations and hypnotic nature of the piece keeps you listening - attentively. One of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard is marked out by fans as "track three" or incongruously "Rhubarb". It's utterly beautiful, shifting, melodic, mellow - the sound you imagine hearing in a state of heavenly bliss. As usual for Aphex Twin the main melody is backed up by a second, in this case, a bass line that towards the end of each musical phrase vibrates. Every hi-fi system I ever played this on, the speakers vibrate! And, it's a quiet song! This isn't amplifiers turned upto 11! It's so quiet but the speakers STILL VIBRATE! A certain pitch or note creates this effect I guess, but added to the utterly beautiful melody creates something more out of the track than otherwise it might have been.

    Well, that's the first three songs covered! Shall I carry on? We'll be here all day? :) Let's just concentrate on a few of the other songs. "Ropes" is another piece of dual melodies contrasting with each other in lots of subtle ways. Like everything else here it's quiet and quite beautiful. The melody lines are simple, so simple.....so beautiful - the sound of the whole record is just not obviously anything you can describe or easily explain. I mean, how DID HE DO THIS? Critics often prefer the debut set to this, calling this release 'self-indulgent' and even harsher 'dull'. There is nothing even slightly 'dull' about softly caressing and always interesting melodies. The fact this album is over two and half hours long - admittedly - is going to make listening to it in a single sitting difficult for many, if not impossible. I usually listen to one disc late at night, the second early morning, both times whilst laying in bed. Well, it's not a collection of party anthems.....it's certainly not for everyone either. The sound isn't extreme, the length and structure of the songs are extreme, but..... "Blue Calx" for instance, a typical example of this record. Percussive effects that sound like single water drops down the deepest well on the planet with a beautifully soft melody line that sounds once more completely unrooted and not of this world. It just sounds timeless, it owes nothing to anyone, not even it's creator, if that makes sense. You don't need to know where or who this comes from, that's not at all important. These tracks are to you, fully complete with shifting beautiful melodies. Possibly the only 'beats' on the entire enterprise arrive with "Shiny Metal Rods". An industrial grinding rhythm propels the track forwards, industrial but still sharing the albums sense of quiet and dignity. It's an ugly sound rendered beautiful and weirdly happy at the same time. "Hexagon", "Match Sticks" are more trademark Aphex Twin melodies. Only "Tassels" and "Spots" fail to work, neither containing melody and being more traditionally ambient in structure, included more for their atmosphere than any intrinsic qualities of themselves.

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    matthew hayes magmaman8@yahoo.com
    This work of music is a master piece.Its a progression in music that was never and still not produced today...I love all the tracks especially the dark industrial ambient tracks,I listen to it everyday to keep me sane.A CLASSIC.

    Martyn Cooper wiley442@hotmail.com
    I'm glad your not the only one that has noticed the speakers vibrate however low you turn the volume down to. Wonder how he managed it? Actually, I wonder how he managed anything Aphex Twin has ever done!

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Ambient heaven. Moog me to paradise and back. Worth checking out You Tube as well for all those classic old school synth films. Aphex Twin is very much appreciated by the crew on-line, and rightly so. Heart warming genius. Who could've thought that technology could be so emotional and humane? 10/10.

    lunarjetman lunarbot@gmail.com
    Ambient Works 1 is fantastic. Abient Works 2 is complete rubbish in my opinion. I would highly recommend people to listen to it first before buying. It just sounds like a collection of sound effects to me & not proper music. It's also very boring. The worst Richard D James CD in my collection by a country mile. The "real" sequel to Abient Works 1 is the Polygon Window album, which follows the same type of melodies/smoothness that I liked in Abient Works 1.

    Simon hamish40p@hotmail.com
    I agree with lunarjetman. The first Selected Ambient Works to me, is the finest electronic, if not best album of all time. It is perfect in every possible way. I was so, so disappointed with the follow up. The only redeaming feature is rhubarb which is probably the best piece he's ever recorded.

    Rupert Greaser xeernoflax@juno.com
    This CD is meant for either dreaming or drugs -- save it for winding down before bed or waiting out a mushroom comedown. A solid nine -- not as good as the previous release, but only because it's not really an "all occasions" kind of disc. "Shiny Metal Rods" sounds like primitive man running through the woods with a spear.

    Louie Shaw Louieramone@gmail.com
    I can't stand this album, not that i don't appreciate it, but i don't have the patience for it. It's obviously meant for being on drugs. "Rhubarb" is ok, but i don't understand how it's got such a fanbase - it's hyperly depressing.

    John Steiner kida53027@yahoo.com
    The pinnacle of all ambient music! No other words could explain it better! You forgot to mention Lichen which could be the perfect song to make love too. Eh whatever. A perfect 10 for me.

    sebastien.srobert@hotmail.com Trois-Rivières, Canada
    Cliffs: 8/10 Less subtle than most of the tracks, more in your face, but still an exotic, charming and relaxing opening track

    Radiator: 8/10 Unnerving and frantic, but cold, distant, atmospheric and not without progression...

    Rhubarb: 9/10 As raw, deep and painfully real-sounding as you can get, yet illuminating, purges your body and brings you to tears for eternity it seems...

    Hankie: 8/10 Scary as hell, sounds like a bunch of ghosts, like there's such a presence around you, though not that melodic

    Grass: 10/10 I just love the way it fades in and creeps its way through you, like weeds climbing up a façade to eat a whole building little by little... it's a melody that evolves like nature, the spookiness is brilliantly conveyed yet beautiful and catchy. CLASSIC.

    Mold: 9/10 Antagonizing... like what the heck are those voices? Do they even come from actual voices? It really just talks to you. It's, again, spooky, but inviting.

    Ropes: 10/10 Mold opens up this other classic really well. The numbness of the overlapping piano layers... and then the sad ending... it's a real beauty in a genre of its own.

    Tree: 10/10 Easily the best track on this whole record... it transports me inside a dark forest, with melodic flying glowing dots observing me. Everything you hear is like a glow in the darkness of silence, an impression brought to life by the opening. It's a tour-de-force, a track with ideas that have never been pulled off, heck, thought of, in all of music's history. In fact it'smore beautiful than anything I've ever heard. When I hear this track, the real world doesn't matter. Until the ending that is, which shows me that the glowing dots have disappeared, leaving me in the dark. That's when I wanna wake up.

    Domino: 10/10 A perfect follow-up to Tree... it really does sound like a bunch of dominoes toppling over each other in the dark, with every exchange of energy being the glow. It's incredibly delicate, intricate sounds forming a melody together... I think that's what this album does best.

    White Blur 1: 9/10 Brings paranoia to you. It's like waking up basically, like there's a bunch of people looking at you asleep but you can see them through your eyelids and dispise them, their realness, wait until they're gone. Such a spookiness to it, so much emotion.

    Blue Calx: 9/10 Sounds indeed like water drops falling down the world's deepest well. The beat it creates is just perfect. It's like a well of eternal wisdom or some shit I cant explain.

    Parallel Stripes: 9/10 Makes you gaze at the ceiling or through the window. Like some sort of buddhist religious experience, it gives you hope, reminds you of all the possibilities, makes you forget about your past, in Aphex Twin format of course. Possibly the most joyous song of all time.

    Shiny Metal Rods: 9/10 Really interesting melodies created by the simplest of instruments (probably shiny metal rods) with sounds that really make people stop talking for a moment and gaze. It's not unnerving, in fact, it's comforting... just rushy.

    Grey Stripe: 9/10 It feels amazing, like you're 30000 feet underwater and receiving the sounds from the cities at the surface. Jesus are the sounds amazing!!

    Z Twig: 9/10 A comforting track in the same way as Blue Calx because it sounds like an awakening, being born again. Brilliant asian-like melody.

    Window Sill: 9/10 This one is more Arab-like. It could've been a classic ancient Arab song as far as I'm concerned.

    Stone In Focus: 10/10 It's a shame that so many people are missing out on this track. Go listen to it on Youtube. It's better than Rhubarb. It just takes its time, imprints your mind with a melody that seems like the most important (and attractive) sound of the universe. But it's imprinted in your mind gently. And it truly dies down at the end. It dies down like a 2000 feet long whale.

    Hexagon: 10/10 Incredibly cool, incredibly happy, incredibly exotic melody with the perfect beats to go along with it. I call this one a classic because it's astoundingly well made.

    Lichen: 10/10 It seems like the perfect song for a soundtrack, in a movie scene where a main character dies. But it's not for any soundtrack. It's too beautiful for a movie. It's real life, it's hard, it's there, it brings you to tears, then it tells you to let go of the sadness.

    Spots: 7/10 It kind of cuts the atmosphere of Lichen abruptly, but then it really seizes you from shoulder to shoulder. It's really scary, monolithic, and I can kind of give it credits for that, even though it doesn't go too far.

    Tassels: 7/10 I like how well it accompanies Spots, as a second hard and cold song with absolutely no humanity to it. I love the sound of it, but where's the beauty and the progression?

    White Blur 2: 9/10 Flows well from where Tassels left off. Not a song engulfed in darkness, but a spooky and desolate one, like you're lost somewhere with voices that are more distant than ever. Memories fading away. AND IT'S A BEAUTIFUL SONG.

    Matchsticks: 9/10 It furfills its role as the amazing closing track to a nearly 3 hour album. You're not a human being after listening to this album, and it's the aliens responsible for your journey that are telling you that. It's not a happy ending, but it's incredibly effective, and cohesive with the last three songs



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    I Care Because You Do 8 ( 1995, UK pos 24 )
    Acrid Avid Jam Shred / The Waxen Pith / Wax The Nip / Icct Hedral / Ventolin / Come On You Slags / Start As You Mean To Go On / Wet Tip Ten Ax / Mookid / Alberto Balsalm/ Cow Cud Is A Twin / Next Heap With

    More ridiculous song titles, more music from Mr Twin. This release ditches the ambient beauty of the previous two albums proper to return to the techno experiments of the celebrated "Digeridoo". We get a few ambient touches here and there, but they are mostly few and far between. We get one song that sounds just like a vacumn cleaner having a fit. It's called "Ventolin" and it's a piece of crap. He even released it as a single, the silly sod! Ok, so it's not crap, there is a melody running beneath the high pitched electronic screams and wails - but this is just a little too challenging to be fully enjoyable. It can be admired, I suppose, the guy obviously has nerve. The opening "Acrid Avid Jam Shred" is a mid-tempo mixture of techno beats with an ambient tune underneath. It's quite nice, the beats all up and down and fairly hypnotic. "The Waxen Pith" introduces typically Aphex Twin type noises - beautiful melodies - and layers proto-type jungle beats over the top of it. "Wax The Nip" is a thunderous set of techno beats married to the kind of beautiful ambient piece that might have popped up on 'Vol 2'. There is nearly always more than one thing going on during any of the individual pieces here.

    "Icct Hedral" is a thing of some beauty, obviously following on from 'Ambient Works Vol 2' but with altogether sharper and louder noises layered over the top. It sounds almost orchestral in places, which is interesting. "Come On You Slags" is Aphex Twin Techno by numbers and absolutely nothing startling if you are at all familiar with his early techno material or his 'Polygon Window' side-project. "Start As You Mean To Go On" has a thumping beat with a beautiful melody layered beneath it. That's the thing, you can concentrate on the ambient melody or enjoy the techno beats layered rather loudly placed over the top. This effect is something Aphex Twin specialises in, it's something that comes across as being so natural and effective it's a wonder more artists of this type don't try to do this. "Wet Tip Hen Ax" is fairly nice, "Mookid" one of the more ambient pieces here ditching the frantic techno beats for a second. "Alberto Balsalm" is a thing of utter beauty, all shifting quiet beats and intriguing melodies that you find yourself humming in your head three days later. "Cow Cud Is A Twin" is entirely forgettable, the closing "Next Heap With" almost entirely orchestral in sound. It's an interesting development - perhaps the result of Aphex Twins growing interest in modern classical music.

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    Michael Zeigermann michael.z@dial.pipex.com
    I Care Because You Do is my favourite Aphex Twin album. Richard James famously said that he "dreams" a lot of his music, and judging by the sound of Alberto Balsam or Next Heap With, that may well be true. Definitely the most dream-like music I've ever heard.

    Nick erfinagerfin@hotmail.com
    Not many albums really blow me away on first listen but this was definetely one. I never knew much about the guy, only that he was often mentioned alongside my favorite electronic artists such as Underworld and Orbital, and that he made a few albums called Selected Ambient Works. I figured I'd give him a try and downloaded a copy of this album. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! The opening strings of "4", with its hammering beats was one of the most unique pieces I'd ever heard. The album is short, but I was capivated through every minute of it. This was last year, and directly after it I had a course in classical music I was taking that semester. It really kind of changed my outlook in that class. I bought a vinyl copy too, just to get a big picture of which is possibly one of the scariest (and coolest) album covers of all time.

    PIP resident518@aol.com
    Ventolin, most inaccessible musical piece of all time? This piece requires the listener to clear all ideas about what music, no, ART is supposed to be. It has such a strange effect on the brain when you attempt to focus on the background melodies and block out the screeching din. I believe it may have been Richard's intention to put such a risky (actually guaranteed risk) single out. It kind of shows you his attitude; wouldn't expect anything less from a man who puts a portrait of himself on the album cover.

    Alex Webb gy06ajw@leeds.ac.uk
    i dont know if anyone has given enough credit to the song alberto balsam on ' i care because you'. This song is paralyzing whilst at the same time completely chaotic to give an effect of pure.....well whatever it is that aphex twin's music is able to do to you. This song can stop you dead in your tracks and just make you think about things that nothing else can. i cant imagine the hours that went into this track but it is so well put together it just flows effortlessly. I think this is one of the most memorable tracks i've ever heard.

    Louie Shaw Louieramone@gmail.com
    My favourite album, Albeto Basalm most be one of RDJ's most underrated tunes, it's utterly fantastic. Ventolin is a nightmare, and there's another couple i don't like, but the first three songs, Mookid and Alberto are some of my favourites of RDJ's work. Brilliant fusion of Ambient and Techno.


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    Richard D James ( 1996 )
    4 / Cornish Acid / Peek 824545201 / Fingerbib / Corn Mouth / To Cure A Weakling Child / Goon Gumpas / Yellow Calx / Girl-Boy Song / Logon Rock Witch

    Our favourite Cornish son dabbles in Drum And Bass and orchestral sounds and everything turns out....? Pretty damn well, actually. There is a freshness to the sound of this record which perhaps was lacking a little on his previous outing. It's a short album too, just over thirty two minutes, which marks some kind of change from albums lasting two and half hours! It's all over too quickly but whilst running we have an utterly captivating experience. The opening "4" is three and half minutes of techno drum and bass beats with nice melody lines running over the top of them. Lots of tempo changes, 'futuristic' noises, it's damn fine! "Cornish Acid" carries on from this but with slower beats and a darker tone, "Peek 824545201" contains lots of extreme electronic squeals amid an absolutely frantic sets of beats that seem to have been speeded up almost beyond tolerance. The melody here is initially harder to get hold of because of everything going on but a melody does indeed appear, and a quite beautiful melody too. The pace of the beats can cause problems though. Still, "Fingerbib" which follows, is fortunately one of the most beautiful pieces of music he's ever made. Lots of easy, childlike melodies and sounds not usual to these kind of ambient/techno records. An orchestral sounding section floats in over top of certain sections, synthetic string sounds. It works very well, the whole song works wonderfully well. Follows this interlude of pure beauty, "Corn Mouth" comes back in with more frantic techno beats but always, always with melody layered over the top of those beats. Great listened to loud, actually.

    "To Cure A Weakling Child" opens with a played around Childs voice before the beats kick in, all strange time signatures and very playful. It's completely ludicrous and not at all serious, but it does make you grin. "Goon Gumpas" is so orchestral in nature it could easily be performed by a proper, full orchestra. Now, there's an idea! Can you imagine how beautiful that would sound? The melodies again are simple, clear - beautiful. Lots of soothing, lovely noises. This is how it's done these days. Why hire an orchestra anyway when you can create something like this in your bedroom with a strange assortment of home-made 'instruments'? "Yellow Calx" is a return to the style of 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92' but with a heavy dose of Drum And Bass thrown noisly over the top. Again, we have at least two things going on - a perfectly 'normal' ambient tune on the one hand, a Drum And Bass track on the other. They seem to bare no actual relation to each other at all, but because the ambient track is all simple melody - the two opposing tracks do work combined. And then, we reach? And then? Well, "Girl Boy Song" for my money is the single best thing Aphex Twin has ever done. Lots of classical music effects, LOTS of Drums And Bass of such a frantic nature it beggars belief. Classical music and Drum And Bass may seem unlikely bed-fellows but Aphex Twin has made them work with each other anyway, whether they like it or not. Again, some beautiful melodic moments sit underneath the beats with the orchestral parts soaring beautifully around both of those parts. Three separate things going on simultaneously but it all seems perfectly natural despite the opposing natures of the styles fitted together. Around the three minute mark, the beats drop out for a moment to allow a truly beautiful orchestral section to come through. I like this kind of classical music! A child-like melody returns and the beats return to fade. It's truly ambitious piece of work that was released as a single in the UK and charted at number thirty nine, I believe. That it deserved to be higher goes without saying!

    One song does remain after the splendour of "Girl Boy Song". "Logon Rock Witch" is all strange Digeridoo sounds with an organ playing underneath, a separate melody playing over the top. Again, almost an unnatural combination for anybody to think of putting together in one track! The organ sounds work particularly well, very 'church organ' to surround the often ridiculously silly percussion surrounding it. <

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    misterO mistero39@hotmail.com
    Richard D. James album - the moment in musical history where melodies became the bones and beats became the colour.

    Kyle Anderson virt757@hotmail.com
    Its hard to put his music into words, his music actually (possibly) saved my life. Im 14 and over the past year Ive been really depressed, I was pretty much hangin on by a string, Music was what kept me alive, and the music seemed to start fading away. Until one day a freind told me about Aphex Twin (Richard D. James). I was truly amazed..

    Rupert Greaser xeernoflax@juno.com
    "Childlike melodies" is correct -- mature, intelligent arrangements, indispensible for those of us who grew up with the NES. The Americen version also has the glorious "Milkman" -- another nine, I'd say: not my favourite, but probably my most-spun James disc.


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    Drukqs 7 ( 2001, UK pos 22 )
    Jynweythek / Vordhosbn / Kladfvgbungmicshk / Omgyja switch / Strothatynhe / Gwety mernans / Bbydhyonchord / Cock-Ver 10 / Avril 14th / Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michael's Mount / Gwarek 2 / Orban eq trax 4 / Aussois / Hy a scullyas lyf adhagrow / Kesson dalet / 54 Cymru beats / Btoum roumada / Lornaderek / Qkthr / Meltphace 6 / Bit 4 / Prep gwarlek 36 / Fathur / Taking control / Petiatil cx htdui / Ruglen holon / AFX237VI / Ziggomatic 17 / Beskhu3epnm / Nanou 2

    None of this was intended for release and bar two singles released in the wake of 'Richard D James' it fully appeared that Aphex Twin had all but retired from the music scene. He made a couple of famous, rare live appearances - but fans all longed for an album proper. He delivered this, which really isn't an album proper, rather a selection of tracks he made for his own amusement and released seemingly just to quieten things down, to stop people constantly pestering him with questions concerning his return, or otherwise. The track-listing here is his most ridiculous yet, but still can't compare to the abstract pictures used to represent the songs from 'Selected Ambient Works 2'. The actual songs contained here are a mixture of very bare 'tasteful' ambient pieces with more techno reliant songs intermingled amongst them. The opening song sounds like a harpsichord picking out a couple of melodies, and that's pretty much it. The second song is a return to techno beats, but this is a more considered track containing other elements and it works pretty well. "Kladfvgbungmicshk" is an odd assorted of percussive noises, like pots and pans being played and blown into but there is melody here, albeit strange melody and strange sounds. It's rather charming, actually! "Omgyja switch" has a stupendous whip-lash sound, little ambient parts underneath, a few techno beats and harsh noises. You know, the usual :) Well, that's the thing in a sense. There is little progression here given the fact this album has been released a full five years after it's predecessor. The remainder of the first CD is given over to more techno tracks and a few fairly nice very ambient Piano tracks sampled in note by note.

    "54 Cymru beats" is hugely silly with little space-invader type noises and a sampled bit of speech heavily messed around with saying 'Tony Blair' over and over again. Hey, a political statement! Of the strange minimalistic ambient pieces here, "Btoum roumada" is very nice, very beautiful. It's followed of course by a taped phone message of Richard D James parents singing happy birthday to him down the phone in fantastic Cornish accents! "Qkthr" is a little piece of beauty, in fact, these unambitious and slight ambient pieces can grow on you. "Meltphace 6" is a return to the sound of the 'Richard D James' album in places, lots of weird percussion, a selection of tempos with an ambient track running underneath. It's a familiar thing for Aphex Twin to do, but here at least it's done well. "Taking Control" is a seven minute piece of funky beats and groove, "AFX237VI" is a beautiful ambient piece heavily mucked around with! We get a few more of the ambient Piano pieces, a few more techno pieces, etc. Nothing too remarkable, but nothing exactly bad either. But, this is a double CD album. It's too long and it lacks focus. It doesn't break any new ground unless you count these little minimalistic pieces, but they alone are certainly not enough to base a direction around. They come across as interludes rather than anything more substantial.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    Well, I must admit I am not really a fan of Aphex Twin. But I DID listen to this album out of curiosity a year ago. This album in a one sentence summary: half weird jolting disjointed techno(??) and half "ambient" style piano pieces (dare I say "eno-like" ?). The "ambient" pieces are actually good! There is also a weird little track consisting of some person singing "happy birthday" to him. IMHO, it would've been better if he had just put all the weird disjointed techno on one CD, and all the "ambient" piano music on the other. But that's just me. (The ambient tracks boost the rating from a two to a five). 5 out 10.

    David Mauas david_mauas@yahoo.com
    Aphex Twin is fascinating to me. The softer, lighter songs sound just as if they were taken from within my most personal, private dreams. Not to mention the disc "come to daddy" which is so wonderful there are no words to describe: Aphex Twin - somehow I think I understand exactly what he means! I want to know the man, talk to him - I feel like we understand each other so deeply it is amazing. I wish I could ask him how he copes with all these things which he expresses so beningly in his music. The man is wonderful. We are so very similar that it pains me not to know him. Of this I am certain.

    misterO mistero39@hotmail.com
    the review on drukqs is a disgrace - does no one realise what they are really hearing? Lacks direction? Drukqs is a journey of dreams, family, childhood, life, death, rebirth. It takes every mood, joke, anger, love, community ('54 cymru beats' is the story of mummy, poppy and baby bear! not Tony Blair!!!) His parents singing him happy birthday! No artist has ever been so personal with a listener!! 'Taking control' introduces you to his mum calling the names of each member of his family! The simple and bare beauty of 'kladfvgbungmicshk' which makes one think of morning sunrises as an introduction in contrast with the drastic madness of '54 cymru beats' - thoughts of a lost space and time in childhood moving in a loop back to the evervescent sunset that is 'ziggomatic 17' filled with a warm beauty that winds you back down to sleep. And all the while he wants to remind you through this madness of acidic sound that there are always moments to reflect and step back from chaos in ! order to see it for what it truly is: order! (e.g 'cock ver/10' to 'avril 14th' to 'Mt Saint Michel+Saint Michaels Mount'). Basically my point is, this is the best album ever made ever and i have not yet read a review of it that does it justice by any stretch. It's an album that took years in the making and takes many more years in the listening. It is coherent and it has more direction than a one way street! Aphex twin is the best thing since things existed. O

    Alexandre W awebster@umail.ucsb.edu
    ONLY A 7??!! this is a remarkable album where he explores the complexities of real sound- penty harmonium, for example, could have been recorded sans the background noises of the harmonium but he leaves them in because they are analagous in quality to the hard beats of his electronics. This is by far his most innovative album in which he goes out on a limb to explore organic complex beats.

    Donald Gray awebster@umail.ucsb.edu
    I dont know why it was given a 7! Some completely new genres have been tinkered with and created in this album. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the song "vordhosbn" the second track in the album. I like how he has a huge difference between the melody and the harch and hectic beats, and it combines so nicely. You even hear what sounds like water dropplets splashing into a puddle below a cave. Check time 0:36. There are so many subttlies to that song alone. This isn't the best APhex CD, they are all the best. He changes style from album to album, but nothing ever sounds old or worn...its truly amazing. It was nice to hear some short but emotional piano peices in this album, scattered about to seperate the crazy songs. I do not think the mainstream listener wouold find these attractive, they sound very deprived and almost dischorded harmonicaly. but this makes the reselutions to the chords even better sounding! For instance in "strothatynhe" the be! ginning chords dont seem to go anywhere...but listen to the sequence 0:40 - 0:50. There is that sign on relief when that reselution chord is held on for longer, its just great! I think this must be the biggest misunderstood album from Aphex or even any artist to date. Although there are the tracks I do not like in this album that people love eg "Taking Control" and "Afx237 V7" it just isn't my style, but it shows his diversity...and i think in the future they will probably grow on me. I think an absolute classic song is "mt saint nichel + mt saint michael's mount" its unbilieveable! He uses hundreds of different sounds and in the right places...the moemevent and momentum of this song is so well played out, who would of expeted it to spread out a bit and soften up with a woman singer coming in near the end. And the sounds of pedals or some padded percussion instrument starting at 4:36 , the rythem of it works so well with the beat and the buzzer letting! you know its going to have a frenzy again. Not to mention the! end of the song, when it sounds like each bar is getting sliced through with a knife, the sections break up and the slicing of notes becomes faster and faster...its so well done. I could talk in detail all night about each song, wlel most. This album has some of the best songs ever in it.

    Vord Hose Bin vbn@ancientgermanictribalvillage.com
    I also used to believe this was a strong record until a few months ago. The truth is, Drukqs is packed to the rim with filler, not to mention uninspiring orchestral compositions. It's clearly just a reactionary release on Richard's part to silence his fans and music critics. It's weak, and is very lucky to of recieved a 7 rating. Even the majority of his thrashing techno pieces are lackluster and limp. I can see Mr.Twin himself pissing himself with laughter every time a fan buys this record, it's laughably weak. For great Aphex Twin releases, try the Selected Ambient Works sessions or Hangable Auto Bulb.

    Liam (Musezik), Liam1332@aol.com
    The problem I have with the views on this album is that they tend to consider it a joke, as above, or that Richard didnt really care what he was releasing. It is true that the release of these tracks was precipitated by the theft of his MP3 player which contained many of these tracks and others that he'd been working on at the time. It's incredibly obvious, to me at least, that he is in love with these works and that the greatest of care and creative energy was put into their crafting. This album contains probably his best work ever - St Micheal's. Like many tracks on this album it is extremely personal, and the emotions it generates are... sublime is the only word I can think of. I admit that this album takes some time to warm up to but the effort is well worth it. I've been listening to this album for years and it gets better every time I hear it.

    Liam Liam1331@hotmail.com
    Ok, to detract the moron of my hopefully longer than 2 years self; this record does feel like it's been nutured and cradled like some sort of organical representation of a record.... You can hear that he's been listening to minimalist piano pieces, and something like Kladfvgbung Michsk really is charming and even melodic. However, his acidic pieces are a bit shit compared to some of his other work, and the second disc is pretty poor altogether. Would have been nice to hear a single disc of these orchestral ideas, instead of something like 'Ziggomatic', to bully and victimise one of the weaker tracks. It's too close to self-parody by now. Although to be easy and say "I can see Mr.Twin himself pissing himself with laughter every time a fan buys this record, it's laughably weak" is obviously an over-stimulated 15 year old getting a bit excited after panda pop and crisps. Would definitely like RDJ to go into some sort of bearded classical phase and release full albums of stuff s! uch as Hy A Scullyas Lyf A Dhagrow. Said as straight as that sentance could sound.

    Bamjimo UK
    Man alive! I find these comments about this album absolutely unbelievable "lacklustre and limp" I must be listening to a different album. Since this release the man has released a couple of CD's as The Tuss which I like to think of as progression of this style (The faster beats not the chilled out bits). I am a committed fan of this type of music and have never found anything that even comes close to this musical achievement. Look, other types of music are mostly based on melodies and predictable catchiness. Not the Twin esp. with Druqks he wraps tunes up and twists them around until you can't remember how it started and don't care. Lacklustre is POP music, Lacklustre is Britney Spears. Lacklustre is NOT crafting music that can makes me stop the car 2 mins from my house with my head buzzing just to make sure I reach the end of a tune. I swear at the end of some tunes he has inverted the music so that you have a down beat within pure sound instead of an up beat within no soun! d. I have a policy not to listen to this album too often because everything else sounds a bit tame and sort of simple in comparison. I have to quickly throw on the Tuss or I get withdrawal symptoms after this I play a few of the mellower Lords and quickly switch to something more normal. Then I feel I can return to the reality bubble and continue with normality……


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    AFX : Chosen Lords 8 ( 2006 )
    Fenix Funk / Reunion / Pitcard / Crying In Yur Face / Klopjob / Boxing Day / Batine Acid / Cilonen / PWSteal.Ldpinch.D / XMD 5a

    Over recent days, my on-going fifteen years plus battle with serious depression has taken a turn for the worse. I've been at home, not doing very much and listening to music. Not being able to concentrate or enjoy anything i've been hearing, nothing at all reaching into my blocked and messed up brain. Well, until now. I've had 'Chosen Lords' on for the past couple of hours on repeat. Sounding utterly unique, 'Chosen Lords' is a compilation sequenced to resemble an album proper. All of the songs are taken from Mr Twin's 'Analord' series of 12" EPs. The recording and mastering process saw Richard go to pains to keep everything analogue. The EPs each sold in excess of 5 figures, made a tidy sum, and are presented here to give the rest of us the chance to hear Aphex reclaim his place at the top of the dance/techno pile. If you're familiar with this album and the press it's already received, you'll know this is apparently a backwards step and a return to 'basics' for Aphex Twin. Such a notion is nonsense. Sure, he's stepped off the path he was travelling with the poorly received 'Drukqs' and moved sideways into another area. In this age of digital recording, Aphex exploring analogue avenues to create music is entirely refreshing. He's done similar things before, but we're ten years on from anything remotely similar he in fact has done before. Things change over time. All of the pieces here seem to be merticulously crafted and considered and the melodies are amongst the strongest Aphex has placed on record since the 'Richard D James' LP. It's not music that shouts to grab your attention, it's merely music that quietly goes about its business of drawing you in over a period of time.

    I'll mention a few of the tunes, then. 'Reunion' is haunting, intriguing and resembles various dream states. There's a soothing melody underneath the sounds weaving in and out of focus. A little drum and bass for the old folks? Well, why not mix it all in whilst this tiny little melody underneath almost disappears, yet still manages to hold your attention whilst everything else is going on. 'Klopjob' seems to resemble birds tweeting in the twilight when everything else is quiet and still, other than the ticking and constant bewildered thoughts of the brain at such a time of day. The opener 'Fenix Funk' is a constant changing journey, 'Pitcard' is an ambient track with a techno track all wrapped within a lucid dreamers imagination. What else? Well, other than the obvious, that this is music that's difficult to describe? Well, it's not the mans finest work, there's not a single moment that's really striking and there isn't enough in the way of aggression or fire. Maybe it's not that kind of an album, though? It strikes me as being a very lonely sounding record, a record for a dull, grey and wet afternoon. It's not blues or jazz or something even more obvious, rock. It's not really even dance. It's Aphex Twin, finding himself again.

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    Syro 8 ( 2014 )
    minipops 67 / XMAS_EVET10 / produk 29 / 4 bit 9d api+e+6 / 180db / CIRCLONT6A / fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 / CIRCLONT14 / syro u473t8+e / PAPAT4 / s950tx16wasr10 / aisatsana

    When Richard D James released 'Windowlicker' and 'Come To Daddy, complete with terrifying videos it seemed he was sticking two fingers up at the music industry. 'Come To Daddy' rendered the entire career of The Prodigy obsolete overnight, for instance. He proved he could do that kind of stuff in his sleep, a laughter filled sleep full of mis-steps and humour where you don't quite know if anything is serious or not. 'Drukqs' was an album that wasn't anticipated and at over two hours and featuring no follow-on from the style of 'Windowlicker' or 'Come To Daddy' seemed not entirely welcome. Years and years later, it's grown in stature but still remains a largely impenetrable work - the silence from Aphex Twin that followed seems telling. It was after all, his first work not to receive a uniform level of praise from either critics or fans. Some state it as being his very best work, i'm not sure I can follow that reasoning as despite the undoubted highlights within - 'Drukqs' simply doesn't allow a cohesive listening experience, it's hugely ambitious but to the detriment of enjoyability in anything other than bite-size chunks. 'Syro' meanwhile arrives as Aphex Twin was buoyed by a kick-starter campaign by fans to raise sixty odd thousand quid just so they could enjoy a twenty year old previously unreleased Aphex Twin album. In his own words in interviews, Richard D James has said that act contributed towards his belief people would actually be interested in new Aphex Twin music. 'Syro' on a first listen sounds like nothing new at all under the Aphex sun, we've heard all this kind of stuff from him before. Having said that, it doesn't sound dated whatsoever and it does sound like a brilliantly sequenced and thought about recording.

    One track here has received almost no mention, positive or otherwise, in early reviews. 'Xmas_Evet10' could sit easily on any single Aphex Twin album with the exception of 'Ambient Works Vol 2'. It is entirely nothing new but following 'Minipops', the easy choice of lead track, reminds a listener why they loved Aphex Twin in the first place. Underneath sits an ambient track all of its own, over the top are various meticulous and easy to grasp melodies as the track goes through various twists during its ten minute duration. This one track could be the single, most representative sample of Richard D James approach to music you could send to someone who had never heard him before. 'Produk 29' continues where 'Xmas' leaves off but sends you into something of a weird meditative state. Electronic music often sounds harsh or cold, or just serving a single, simple purpose. Richard D James approach to electronic music is to mix digital and analogue and offer plenty of emotion though his choice of melodies. 'Produk 29' has more melody than many electronic artists entire careers. 4' bit 9d api+e+6' has melodic shapes before hitting around the head and '180db_' is a nosier techno edged dancefloor monster with what sounds like fireworks blasting in the distance. 'Sryo' is this melodic respect could be seen as playing it safe, however for every 'Minipops' is a 'Circlont14' to keep you on your toes, a track you never know where is going next and near title track 'Syro u473t8+e' which could be a distant version of disco heard whilst falling down steps.

    A couple more tracks of jerkiness and clatteringly weird drum beats before 'Aisatsana' appears to perfect that treated, solo Piano style he took up during his 'Drukqs' phase. Five minutes of birdsong, very pretty repeating simple melodies - a quiet piece sonically apart from the rest of the LP and perhaps also the most meaningful and startling track given to us by Richard D James throughout the 64 minutes 'Syro' lasts for. I especially adore the sustain at the end of each brief Piano passage during 'Aisatsana' , it happily reminds me of 'Selected Ambient Works Vol 2' in that respect.

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    this page last updated 09/10/11



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