Showing posts with label aphex twin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aphex twin. Show all posts

Friday, October 17, 2014

video review: 'syro' by aphex twin

Well, this took a while to get done, and I can't imagine it'll go over without controversy, but I'm happy I finally got to it.

Next up is Iceage, so stay tuned!

album review: 'syro' by aphex twin

I've written in the past that it's hard to discuss legends. Especially legends that have come to shape so much of modern music to the point where some critics describe revisiting their old classics as 'vintage'. And for me personally, it's even harder when the genre is electronica, an musical genre that I'm only beginning to peel into in any significant way outside of specific offshoots like trance. To go back to the source is more than a little intimidating, especially if you have the uneasy feeling that a mob with pitchforks and torches will set you on fire if you don't throw out critical acclaim.

So on that oh-so-comforting note... Aphex Twin. The stage name of the man with three first names Richard David James who used the Aphex Twin name among several others, his first release was a compilation of ambient mixes he had recorded from '85 to '92 - and surprise surprise, it's excellent. Even though on that album you can hear the sounds that would come to dominate so much of modern music, Aphex Twin had the twin advantages of good melody and even better texture, taking sounds that might be considered 'vintage' now and still crafting memorable and potent songs. And yet with Selected Ambient Works Volume II, some of that texture evaporated into a set of sparse, underweight and underwritten melodies that lacked presence even for ambient music and went on a good ninety minutes longer than they should have, even though it did get a fair bit better in its second half. Fortunately, that texture came back for 1995's ...I Care Because You Do and especially for the spiky yet beautifully melodic 1996 Richard D. James Album, a record that even today has a decidedly unique sound with the blend of strings, slightly off-kilter synth tones, and drill-like percussion, and has held up incredibly well. 

Then came 2001's Drukqs... and here's the thing, I'd argue about half of that double album works incredibly well - experimental, drill & bass inspired production that holds up as innovative even today, and there are some phenomenal melodies that are utilized across that record that I really love. But there are also more tracks that go on longer than they should and the harpsichord interludes really did wear out some of their welcome. And from there, James decided to take a long break from using the Aphex Twin moniker until a Kickstarter campaign to reclaim the old, unreleased record Caustic Window from a record collector showed a great deal of popular interest still in his work. And to some extent that catalyzing incident is important, and was indicative of what might be on the record - we probably weren't going to be getting the insane, eclectic experimentation, but a piece that was sure to be a crowdpleaser for long-time Aphex Twin fans. Did we get that?