Your Vital Beginners Guide to Aphex Twin
THERE’S a lot of excitement about Aphex Twin at the minute, as he’s back to release a new LP – ‘Syro’ – and, for fans of awkward electronic music (which are, ostensibly, the new prog generation), any appearance of Richard D. James is worth your attention.
However, what with Aphex having a lot of stubborn male fans, if you’re new to it all, you will almost certainly run into some elitist bullshit at some point; even though Aphex Twin is not at all elitist himself, getting angry when people refer to his music as ‘IDM’, which stands for the achingly awful ‘Intelligent Dance Music’.
So, you want to know what the fuss about Aphex Twin is?
Well, we’re here to help and create a beginners/bluffers guide, so you can dip your toe in and find out whether he’s for you or not. He’s got a few pseudonyms too, so he can he quite hard to keep up with, but once you’re in, that’s part of the fun.
Pull up a chair, pop your ears, and let us commence.
Aphex Twin ‘Windowlicker’
Aphex released two of his most popular records back-to-back, with the watershed bothering ‘Come To Daddy’ frightening everyone half to death, and then, the infamous ‘Windowlicker’.
Aphex Twin – ‘minipops (source field mix)’
The first track to be shared from Richard James’ new album, ‘Syro’. Quite playful and sounds a bit like (the also brilliant) Plaid. This is the first proper new release from Aphex in ages.
Aphex Twin – ‘Avril 14th‘
From his patchy ‘Drukqs’ LP, Aphex Twin veered from brutal and glitchy drill ‘n’ bass, to most pastoral, pleasant piano work, like ‘Avril 14th’, which Richard James accused Kanye West of stealing.
AFX ‘Flow Coma’
Under his AFX guise, James released a double A-side white label, where he remixed a couple of tracks for shits and giggles. ‘Flow Coma’ sees him getting an acid track and turning it inside out. One of the most brilliant things he’s ever done.
Caustic Window ‘Stomper 101mod Detunekik’
Richard James also puts work out as Caustic Window. This year, the master of the unreleased LP found itself on a Kickstarter thing and now it is out in the wide world. Strange that Aphex felt we weren’t ready for this, given what he was putting out at the time.
Aphex Twin ‘Donkey Rhubarb’
Here we find Aphex Twin in all-out playful mode, which is not a thing to be sniffed at in the too-frequently po-faced world of electronic music. This track’s video is creepy and funny, which is what James excels in.
Aphex Twin ‘Yellow Calx’
One of the stand-out tracks from the ‘Richard D. James’ album, which is arguably the best in James’ back catalogue. This body of work was a real game-changer and everyone suddenly started to look at processing beats differently. Even Timbaland managed to incorporate some of this beat-mangling into his work.
Aphex Twin – ‘Bucephalus Bouncing Ball’
The b-side to ‘Come To Daddy’, this track shows just how breakneck Richard James’ mind works. This has to be seen at one of Aphex’s gigs to understand how punishing his music can be. It rattles along like a usual Aphex track, before breaking down into a bouncing ball, which somehow, James turns into a beat. This kind of thing makes us fans salivate like nobody’s business.
Aphex Twin ‘Xtal’
From ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92′, this is included to show another of Richard James’ softer sides. This body of work is also a firm favourite in the back catalogue for his fans.
Aphex Twin ‘Digeridoo’
Aphex Twin used to be signed to techno label R&S Records, and during that time, he put out proto-gabba, insane throat beating sonic terror and pacy breakbeaty dancefloor numbers like ‘Digeridoo’.
Aphex Twin ‘Ventolin’
Richard James loves brutal noise and this track, from the excellent ‘I Care Because You Do’ shows Aphex in playful, peevish mood. It is brilliant, for those who like being put through the wringer.
Bradley Strider ‘Bradley’s Beat’
James has also put music out as Bradley Strider and, while not as tricksy and clever as other stuff he’s better known for, there’s still a lot of fun to be had.
Aphex Twin ‘Funny Little Man’
Sometimes, Aphex Twin can turn music inside out while blatantly taking the piss. He’s responsible for the puerile and preposterous (yet still ace) ‘Milkman’, and the poingy fun of ‘Funny Little Man’, which sounds like someone getting increasingly irritated while playing Super Mario Brothers or something.
Polygon Window ‘If It Is Really Me’
More alias fun with Richard James, this time with the rather pleasant ‘If It Is Really Me’ from the ‘Surfing On Sine Waves’ LP. He followed this with an Aphex Twin release, ‘On’, which has a splendid video directed by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker.
Aphex Twin ‘Isopropanol’
More daft noise making from Aphex, taken from his R&S days.
Aphex Twin ‘Alberto Balsalm’
Again, from the ‘I Care’ album, we again see that Aphex Twin isn’t all about trying to make your ears bleed. This is a fan favourite for sure and borderline straight-laced… well… as straight laced as someone can be when his shoes are made out of hornet nests.
Feel free to add your own favourite Aphex Twin tracks in the comments or on Twitter. Excited for his new album now?