In a day and age where celebrity and worship is devoured, and where info and the personal loves of our favorite entities are known and dissected, Richard D James stands firmly in the shadows.
Now, while he’s nowhere near as known as Kanye( Even though Mr. West knows his music well enough to lift some of his work for his own use and then not credit him), James has made of career of sidestepping his “counterparts” and entrenching himself on the outside rim of what is mainstream.
For many people, their first encounter with the work of Aphex Twin came with the video of “Come to Daddy,” the super fucking creepy clip that helped to at least in part establish risk taking electronic during the late 90’s. Like Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers and Autechre especially, the sounds of AT were different than the more guitar driven rock of the time period, but such is the way of the music world. It still remains one of the best plots of the world of music as we launched toward the next millennium.
When I first heard this “Come to Daddy” track and witnessed the nightmarish landscapes and construction of the video, it instantly stood out to me. It was gorgeously done and mixed, but it’s also terrifying and worrisome. That said, while he certainly has songs that are dark and foreboding in its mayhem, quite a lot of his material is engrossing, layered, and well soothing. When I look at an artist, I hope for continuity but also experimentation and growth. It can be tricky thing to pull off, but the rewards are often plentiful. During his music making career, Richard D. Has performed and recorded under the Aphex Twin moniker, but also over ten other names. some of the more known include AFX, the excellent Caustic Window, GAK and Polygon Window. Honestly it’s a lot to consider, but you can’t deny his prolific nature.
One of the best overall tracks during the first half of his career as Twin, is a single “Windowlicker,” that not only stands up these days but remains a core foundation of the growth for electronic music during the turn of the century. It’s a masterpiece that flows and cascades through various whimsy and delight. It’s just a chipper yet soothing song that is as captivating as it is plush. With the release of that song, alongside the release of his masterpiece Drukqs in 2001, he was on the map, but then retreated and didn’t start to reuse his Aphex Twin moniker for nearly 13 years. From there though, it got even weirder.
The return started in typical Aphex Twin fashion, with something out of the box and provocative: samples of music showing up on the dark web for fans to track down, stumbling through the darkness in pursuit of something musically exciting. The result of the campaign was the
release of James’ first AT album in over a decade, “Syro.” Musically it’s similar to what came before, but it’s still an excellent example of electronic music pushing boundaries and waking audiences up to something that perhaps they had forgotten.
Since then we’ve seen the release of two very good but quite different EP’s, titled “Cheetah,” while the other “Collapse” takes the route of weird even by Aphex Twin standards. My partner wasn’t a huge fan of either, but the whole sound of the project doesn’t really embrace drawing new fans. I think it’s likely because with Twin, you either gravitate towards it’s challenging nature, or you just don’t get it, or downright don’t like the minimal nature. Either way, Richard D James as Aphex Twin is a true trailblazer of electronic conjuring’s, and it’s excited to see more mininmal productions and sound engineering making their way back into a more appreciated musical landscape. Thanks for reading, hope y’all enjoyed.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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