New catchy title: check…
New tune: check…
Through his own Rephlex label, and alongside the likes of Warp Records, Richard D. James has long championed electronic artists who refuse to dance to a 4/4 beat (pun intended). Under the moniker ‘Aphex Twin’, James was a leading light in the creation of the genre known as IDM – Intelligent Dance Music.
Aphex Twin turned the 90’s dance music scene upside down with his syncopated beats, off-kilter chord structures and general non-conformity. His work achieved unexpected mainstream success, but his signature stylings remained unchanged. Releases would often see songs stretching from furious breakneck Drill-and-Bass, to quiet piano pieces and everywhere in between.
His approach to the industry, and it’s focus on the celebrity over the musician was one of disdain, never feeling comfortable in the glare of the spotlight that threatened to usurp the music as the priority. He effectively disappeared from recording all together after the release of his last album ‘Druqks‘ in 2001, with only rumoured releases under pseudonyms to keep fans hopes alive of new output.In the following years his maverick approach inspired a new breed of electronic musicians to follow in his footsteps. Their music is wide and varied, but almost all will attribute the work of Aphex Twin as having a huge influence on their own careers. 13 years since his last official release, James is back with an enormously anticipated (and mostly unexpected!) new album ‘Syro‘, and this, it’s lead single.
Snappily titled ‘minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]’ (James loves his daft titles), the new release is something of a collage of previous Aphex sounds. With it’s squelchy analogue opening sounding much like his ‘Analord‘ era work, the lovely, sharp synth sounds that come in around the 1:40 mark recalling ‘Vordhosbn‘ from ‘Druqks‘, and heavily warped vocals at times sounding, well, like only an Aphex track can, it’d be easy to assume this is a rehash of previous work.
But the sum of the whole is greater than it’s parts. The music here is simply ‘Aphex‘. It’s idiosyncratic, un-danceable, beautifully put together, and some of his most melodic work to date. The breakneck drum patterns may well be on hold (I’m hoping we get a few on the album, though!) but the skittering beats are still jolting along behind these quieter melodies. The attention to detail is staggering, as per usual.
Long time fans will lap this up, the return of the King, 13 years in the making, and back to his imperious best. Newer listeners will find a great gateway into James’ back catalogue through this track, and a more interesting artist they are unlikely to find.
Author – Chris, Liverpool store