After an almost ten year wait i finnally had the pleasure of seeing "aphex twin"live at the oxygen music festival here in ireland last summer,few artists in any genre of music could boast to having achieved what this artist has over an almost twenty year career,to have such longevity and still maintain your integrity is no mean feat,to break down barriers and take electronic music to demented levels of creative abandon,well thats the measure of a true genius,albiet a crafty one with a cheeky wit and flair for ingenuity,just look at any number of internet forums and you will see the almost godlike respect he is given in not only electronic circles but almost all walks of audio refreshment.
To listen to all of "aphex twins"back catalouge is to take a journey both forwards and backwards and inwords,its simply timeless,alien,dark,scary,comforting,confusing,fast,slow,funny,excilarating all rolled into one,how many artists can do that,not many i think.
His music goes to both extremes via sum mindblowing audio trickery but as a starting point i would highly recommend the album"i care because you do"as this gives a great example of his ambients brilliance and the more heavily percussion orientated later work,also check out his unreal "come to daddy"mini horror video that just might be the scariest music promo ever shown on late night mtv,not for the faint hearted.
Overall this is a stunning artist that has noones footsteps to follow in and might just be that last true inovator of his generation..!!
I just couldn't decide which Aphex Twin album to review, so I thought I'd just give an overview of the man himself and tell you a little bit about some of his best works. You could be forgiven for hearing the name Aphex Twin, without actually thinking that you've heard any of his music. Everyone from Radiohead to Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland to Kid 606, have recently claimed that they have been influenced by Richard. D James. In the past few years, the man's profile seems to have rocketed skywards, especially in the States where the burgeoning IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) scene, has taken him as their father-figure somewhat. And though I just claimed that there is a chance that you may not have heard any of his music, this is not true, because he has written several cheesy dance smashes for chart acts (though he will not say which ones), and his music is frequently used in adverts (though British Airways probably won't be using the one that they commissioned him to do which features extreme noise and screaming). Aphex Twin was born in Cornwall 28 years ago and began making music as a very young child. Apparently, he would make synthesisers himself out of basic electronic equipment. He even claimed that he invented a music programme for the Spectrum computer, which was apparently impossible. Though Richard has recorded under many different aliases such as Caustic Window, Polygon Window, AFX and billions more, I'm just gonna stick to the music that he has made under the name 'Aphex Twin', because the category is called 'Aphex Twin in General'. The first album he put out under this moniker was 'Selected Ambient Works 84-91' and it instantly became hailed as a modern classic. It is a far cry from his work now and it relied on simple repetitive melodies and rythms, which created a truly beautiful sonic soundscape. It is 'chill out' music, but not in a coffee-table, bland, "I can't
actually be bothered listening to music, so I'll just buy Chill-Out Euphoria Breakdown III" way. It is chill-out in that it gurgles and washes and floats in a non-aggressive manner, but it remains timeless, breathtaking and magnificent. A great place to start if you're looking to get into Aphex. Some people claim that he has never bettered this work, but each differ so greatly that this is somewhat of a foolish statement to make. The follow up to 'Selected Ambient Works 84-91' was 'Selected Ambient Works Vol. II', which sounds a little bit like 'Chill Out in Ibiza II', but only in terms of its title. Though this is ambient music, it could never be seen as 'chill-out', partially due to the fact that it is deeply disturbing. Various melodies and disembodied vocal clips fade in and out of view creating a hauntingly child-like atmosphere (the recovery of childhood innocence seems to be a major preoccupation of Aphex's). It lost him many of his fans and in some quarters it was critically panned. However, although it probably isn't the greatest starting point for those not familiar with Aphex's works, it is an immensely rewarding listen. Spread over two-discs and with symbols replacing song-titles, it is a demanding album, but it provided many treasures. Next up was 'I Care Because You Do' (actually a B-sides and rarities compilation entitled 'Classics' came next, but it a'int brilliant so I'm gonna ignore it). By this point Richard was starting to like NOISE. Don't get me wrong, its not amazingly noisy, but in parts, 'I Care Because You Do' uses harsh, dischordant frequencies and sounds to create an amazingly claustrophic masterpiece. This album is perhaps the fans' favourite, and was reportedly what Thom Yorke had jammed in his walkman during the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions'. It is also intensely melodic in parts, and is perhaps the best example of Ahex'
; penchant for mixing uneasy listening with great, heartbreaking melodies. 'Richard D. James' album was next up and seemed to capture the zeitgeist perfectly. Basically it is the sound of the London Philamonic Orchestra trying to play drum'n'bass with elastic bands. It was the first time that 'drill and bass', as it came to be known, edged near the public consciousness. This was the first Aphex album that I bought and it is quite simply astonishing. At a brief 38 minutes long, each moment is genius, especially 'Girl/Boy Song', if you haven't heard music like this, you're in for a surprise. This also became the album which seemed to influence the growing electronica scene the most and his evidence of this f@?ked up drum'n'bass can be heard in the music of Kid 606 and Bogdan Raciznsky'. Aphex released two amazing singles after this: 'Come to Daddy' (imagine The Prodigy doing gabba) and Windowlicker (imagine Daft Punk going through a shredder). Eac featured amazing MTV friendly videos, directed by Chris Cunnigham (who also directed Madonna's 'Frozen and Bjork's 'All is Full of Love'). Each featured Aphex Twin's head superimposed on little girls and big-titted bikini-clas women respectively. They were brilliant. "More!" everyone cried. "No said Aphex Twin. Apparently he was retiring from music altogether, but this year saw the emergenge of a new double album entitled 'Drukqs', which is apparently only a colloction of songs that Richard left on a minidisc in a plane and was scared would become bootlegged on the net, so he thought he'd release them. It is a hotch-potch bag on ambient doodles, cracking immensely fast drill n'bass, and classical piano interludes. It also features an answerphone message from his parents singing 'Happy Birthday' to him. It's not his most innovative work, but he has pushed back the boundaries of music
with each release and this is still a brilliant album, even if it doesn't do that. Some other things you might like to know about Aphex Twin: 1) When Madonna asked for a remix, he asked her to do animal noises on the track. She refused. 2) When the Lemonheads asked him to do a remix, he forgot and just gave them a half-finished track of his own when the deadline arrived. 3) He used to own a tank and live in a bank-vault. 4) He had a brother who was born before him and shared the same name, but died as a baby. His grave features on the 'Boy/Girl EP' sleeve. You have thirty minutes to write an essay entitled "Why I should like Aphex Twin" and you must mention at least two albums in detail in your answer. You may begin.
Richard D. James is known by several different aliases including AFX, Polygon Window, Caustic Window, The Dice Man and, his most renowned, Aphex Twin. Throughout the 80's and 90's James has proven himself to be arguably the closest comparison to Mozart in modern times. How so? Just listen to his music. The majority of it contains such sophistication that it makes so-called musical geniuses like Underworld and the Prodigy sound comparable to chart trash like Aqua or the Tweenies. Aphex Twin never has, and hopefully never will, gain the commercial success his music deserves. My reason for hoping he never will is that he may turn horribly commercial and 'sell out'. He is well known inside the dance industry and has a cult following, which I would include myself in, but apart from his 1999 single "Window Licker" he has never come close to achieving fame in the usual sense of the word. The brilliance behind James' music is the complexity and simplicity of it and the way in which he intertwines the two. He grew up taking pianos apart and fiddling with all sorts of electronic devices such as synthesisers in his Cornwall home, and thus has an incredible knowledge of how dance music works. While James is quite the technical wizard, he also has an equal talent for song writing. His tracks range from uplifting to satanically evil, mellow to hyperactive, light-hearted to emotionally fuelled. His early releases, "Selected Ambient Works", mirror their release dates very well. The collection boasts an enormous range of tracks many different styles. I would sum the collection up as ambient techno and while less sophisticated than later releases, the tracks contain a very simple and calming theme (with the few inevitable exceptions) that will probably still appeal to many. His second release, "I Care Because You Do", marks a progression in style for the Twin. It features his now trademark penchant for sampling ever
y manner of household noise (such as Coke cans being tapped, marbles being dropped) and building complete tracks from them. It sounds more modern than "Selected Ambient Works" and I would recommend it over his earlier releases. Aphex Twin's next album, "The Richard D. James Album", was to be his most successful to date and it is little wonder when you listen to the quality of its tracks. Featured here are many cleverly laid loops, rolls, skipped beats, aurally pleasing samples and, above all, a solid vision of a great album on the Twin's behalf. The highlights in my opinion are "4", "Fingerbib", "Yellow Cal X" and "Girl/Boy Song (Redruth Mix)". James followed up the success of his self-titled album with 1997's "Come To Daddy" EP. The EP sounds very reminiscent of the "Richard D. James Album" but James' vision and style seems to have been pushed just that bit further and the results are evident. "Come To Daddy" must rank with the scariest pieces of recorded music ever (especially when combined with the video), "Flim" is just complete musical heaven and a step back to the "Selected Ambient" days, and "Bucephalous Bouncing Ball" (from which he built around the sample of the marble or something similar falling that I mentioned earlier) is a technical work of art. The next two years James devoted to trying to break into the charts and the result of his efforts, "Window Licker", came excruciatingly close. Whilst used by MTV, Eurosport and many other channels for adverts, the single didn't gain Aphex Twin the success he was hoping for. Many people said the main hook was brilliant but that the track was ruined by James trademark fiddling with beats and melodies. I think this only adds to the excellence to "Window Licker" but popular opinion dictates otherwise. That is why we will never see Aphex Twi
n on Top of the Pops or the Pepsi Chart Show. I would be heartbroken to see him release something new that was an obvious attempt at mainstream success as it would undoubtedly be terrible. James' raw musical talent will never be embraced by the general musical public and the only way it could is if it is bastardised beyond recognition. I can only hope he never goes down that road. Nevertheless, James doesn’t need to carry on for the money – he got paid a ‘six figure sum’ for providing the music on an advert for Pirelli tyres (the one that shows an athlete seemingly lined with Pirelli’s grip on her feet scaling mountains or something similar). Aside from his releases, James co-owns Rephlex records - a medium sized dance label - and enjoys driving an army tank around his parents' back garden (a chance would be a fine thing!) in his spare time. A bit of trivia: Where does the Name Aphex Twin come from? James won't tell but an educated guess can be made. James had an older brother, Richard, who died shortly after birth. Strangely, Mrs James called her second son (Aphex Twin) Richard as well. So James viewed himself as a twin to his dead brother. The 'Aphex' is harder to pin down but NME claimed the 'A' stands for acid element in his sound and the PH for the PH value of acid. Where does the name "Window Licker" come from? Apparently the phrase 'window licker' is a British term applied to someone who wants what they cannot have (e.g. the two black guys in the track's video) and also people who are somewhat insane. A final useless fact: James normally sleeps for only two hours each night. He claims that if he sleeps any more, he does not have enough time to do everything each day (presumably writing recording, taking acid, driving his tank and managing Rephlex). So, to sum up Aphex Twin. I can't say whether you would
like him or loathe him .If you hate all forms of dance music then there's little chance you will like him. It helps to have a basic knowledge of how dance music is created because only then does the true extent of Aphex Twin's technical wizardry become apparent (I can only puzzle over how he creates his music). James hasn't released anything since "Window Licker" and rumour has it that he won't in the near future either. If the rumour is to be believed, he is still writing and recording but will only release material after his death. Well, that's only a 40 or 50 year wait! I recommend Aphex Twin highly and people who generally fall into the non-dance category of musical tastes (such as myself) may be pleasantly surprised by his music.
Richard D James, aka Aphex Twin (alongside many other monikers) is a genius. That, I am afraid, is a fact. It’s truth value cannot be disputed. The manner in which Richard D James makes electronic music (braindance being his term for it) is unique. Percussion is substituted for instruments, intruments and assorted noises are used as percussion, timing is altered and generally played with, and he makes tunes out of an insane array of different noises, which don’t rightfully belong in music. The style of music is hugely diverse, the back catalogue immense… I could go on. The man, as I said, is a genius.
Released in 1996, the 'Girl/Boy EP' was the first Aphex Twin release I bought. Like much of his work of this period, the title track (taken from the 'Richard D. James' album) is a beautiful orchestration of melodic strings and horns being attacked by ferociously complicated, fractured beat pattern. The first time I heard it (on 'The Evening Session' with Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley... memories *sigh*) I initially found its extreme clash of harmony and chaos quite funny. However its genius crept on me. Many of his fans purely enjoy the spectacle of his technical abilities but I find his music really snaps my synapses. Unlike any artist I know, Richard can make beats sings through their speed, fluctuations and total unpredictability. This EP is worthy of a review here because it has six great tracks, including 'Milkman', which is a lush techno-lullaby. Buy it, steal it, borrow it, download it... just get it.
What makes this album special? Is it the primitive production, and deliberate hiss in the background? It's hard to say, but this collection of songs recored over a 7 year period has a magical, soothing quality to it. The production quality may not be up to modern standerds, but Richard James has certainly, in my mind, produced to definitive ambient album. Sooothing Synths, un-oppresive drum patterns, background effects, it has it all. The only complaint possible would be that the last quater isn't up the the standerd of the rest. But anything, when compared to "Heliosphan" will look bad. The track is so perfect it is unbelieveable.
I have only heard a selection of aphex tin songs, but from what i can tell they are pretty good. I especially like their selected ambient works album. I really like the video to come to daddy, that bit where he is screaming at that old lady is such an image! The window licker video is also very good. If you want to see these videos mtv2 on sky digital shows them all the time. I don't know any thin what so ever about the actual band. If any one know any thing then please put it in the delicious form of a comment.
Wow! Richard D. James is the greatest living musician. In years to come he will be placed alongside the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Radiohead. If you have never heard anything by this twisted freak, I suggest you leave your computer this second and rush to your local record shop. Aphex twins music is hard to describe. Rephlex (www.rephlex.com) describe it as Braindance: "when rephlex started in 1991 people said that the type of music we released was called 'techno'. People always say that "things arent what they used to be" well the same could be said for techno. As the years progressed the media invented more and more terms to describe the various sub-genres of music (intellegent happy hardcore, psychedelic handbag, progressive bluntcore, uplifting trance etc..) To be honest with you this made us confused about how we fitted into the dance spectrum? So we decided to invent BRAINDANCE - a genre that encompasses all known genres - to make things simpler. Braindance is not so much a style of music but a way of life." Dont be put off if this isnt the type of music you would usually listen too, I believe anyone who gives this album a chance will love it. Last week I was Listening to Aphex Twin and my 78 year old Grandmother said "This is lovely, who is it by?" Perhaps the song on this album that best defines Richard D. James' twisted genius is Ventolin, a song that is inspired by asthma attacks! On a lot of albums you listen to, you can clearly hear the standout tracks and the ones that a just there to fill in the numbers. I have yet to hear an Aphex Twin song I did not think was fantastic. There is a God, and his name is Richard D. James.