Available on 12” Vinyl and CD. After Syro, the first material from Richard D. James under his Aphex Twin moniker in 13 years, dropped near the end of 2014, I think most of us hoped that it wasn’t going to be an equally long wait. James says he’s been making computers play real instruments for years, designing and contracting people to build his manic contraptions. Of course, being Aphex Twin, the title could be a complete misnomer.
12" £11.99 WAP375
12-track 12" EP on Warp.
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CD £7.99 WAP375CD
12-track CD EP on Warp.
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If there’s one thing we have learned about the cyborg known as Richard D. James, it’s that he is a complete rascal. Not only has he emblazoned his frankly worrying mug on the cover of most of his LPs, released music covertly under all sorts of nonsense names, Dropping out of music for 13 years is undoubtedly the Big Mac of all these shenanigans - a fat double patty of a deed that leaves a queasy feeling in our bellies. But that’s not enough, and this latest EP offering serves us yet more mischief.
Firstly, PART 2? The world of electronic music will wail those two words to the mountains of takeaway boxes piled up to prevent leaving the house at all in anticipation of another AFX announcement. Well, here it is, and apparently it’s the sequel to an unknown prequel. Richard, you little bugger. Second, those who want to snag the sizzle of the vinyl version will be met with the label print “33 or ..45”. So in effect, you’re getting TWO Aphex albums for the price of one, now that’s a sweet deal! Or it’s just another pointer to the mad sense of humour that Mr James has been injecting into his fine grooves his whole life and may annoy you to shit.
Your choice of the above will determine whether you are listening to a superslow hip-hop AFX or a mid-to-uptempo breakbeaty AFX, so choose wisely. In a way, he’s letting us choose what he sounds like in 2015, but are you controlling Richard or is he controlling you?
Well, aside from that, the music presented here is absolutely brilliant. His long hinted at and recently revealed robot orchestra bang and clank on whatever their crazes master comes up with to produce a sort of cacophonous electroacoustic gamelan. Dropping to 33rpm results in the sound of Tom Waits and his tincan ensemble of ‘Rain Dogs’ [Robin demands credit here because he’s desperate]. All sorts of interesting discordant percussive noises are coaxed out of goodness knows what, blurring the line between the acoustic and the electronic so that you have no idea is what you’re hearing is one of his carefully arranged samples or a miracle of modern robomusic engineering. A lot of the tracks feature James in his usual ‘bonkers’ mode, such as frenzied opener ‘diskhat ALL prepared1mixed’ and the persistent almost drumkit-less piano clonk of ‘hat 2b 2012b’ (actually it’s not clear at all where side A ends and side B begins so take that with a load of salt). The particularly mad ones tend to end quite abruptly, as if he’s saying, “right, enough of that racket”.
As has been previously stated by Richard himself, most of the beautiful piano interludes featured on his albums have been played mechanically, and there’s only 1 of them featured on here. This led a friend to state that maybe the collected piano pieces so far comprise Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt1, the clever chap. The one on here is a lovely little ponderous respite, so kudos to anonymous emotional robot X. It would be great if there were more, but that’s about all the criticism that I can give this.
For those expecting Syro pt2, you have instead been presented with an EP that challenges its predecessor and nullifies Aphex’s electronic mastery while championing a new cyber medium, and hails him as more of a master musician than ever before.
9/10 jimbo Customer review, 21st June 2015
This release like the Marmite-black cover has split the Aphex camp. The music is a sublime break from the full tilt gargling hell bent structures that lurch through the needle on other releases. Playing on 33rpm or 45rpm is left to the owners discretion & the results are interesting. The piano is the only instrument that does not benefit from age but instead will deteriorate from day one. Druqs appears to capture the destruction of the instrument with the samples being used very effectively in the process. Capturing the instruments spectrum from the conventional hammers on felt on strings to the 'prepared' techniques inspired by Cage & into the heavy industrial samples where it sounds at times like the instruments timbre & harp is literally being beaten.
This EP seems to beautfully glance back towards the quiet moments from Druqs and fills in some of the the story of this instruments journey from functional and intact to dented broken and bruised.
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