tue 25/04/2017

CD: Aphex Twin - Syro | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Aphex Twin - Syro

CD: Aphex Twin - Syro

yvyll333'n'quakkers, as Aphex might have it - a fine and enjoyably squelchy return, in other words

Squelching, tricksy, sometimes abject sneeze-funk, warped and technoid, with intrusions from the abstract fringes of drum & bass
Aphex, a sweet red-haired lad from Cornwall who lost his way

Even if this album were dull, which it is far from, Aphex Twin Richard D James’ return would be welcome. Although he’s only a pop star in the loosest sense, his return via the “dark web” and a nonsensical press release reminds that he’s the eternal prankster, subverting the increasingly staid music biz game.

Happily, his career has also lived up to his obtuse anti-hype with game-changing output such as “Analogue Bubblebath” (1991), Selected Ambient Works 85-92 “Quoth” (as Polygon Window, 1993) and the extraordinary “Windowlicker” in 1999 (both the tune and Chris Cunningham’s demented video). For that lot alone he’s left the entire careers of most guitar bands of the last 20 years in the dust.

Aphex’s last outing, DrukQs, in 2001, was a double that didn’t live up to his rep. However, absence for over a decade has done him favours. Syro is 12 tracks of squelching, tricksy, sometimes abject sneeze-funk, warped and technoid, with intrusions from the outer fringes of drum & bass. Post-dubstep flavours are entirely absent, as is any explicitly digitised contemporary dance sound. The Nineties-ish analogue edge is welcome, though. Certain listeners in 1985, hearing Go West and Five Star must have wished for Soft Cell, and in 1975, listening to Showaddywaddy and Pilot, pined for the MC5. Thus with this – the Nineties alt-tronic analogue twitch is richer, rawer, and more riveting than, say, Katy B or Duke Dumont’s recent output.

Syro evades the wreckless vanguard feel of earlier Aphex works, with the exception of the very deliberately lovely ambient piano closer “aisatsana”. Some tracks are derivative – the opening “minipops 67” is a ringer for Tim Exile's 2009 album track "Fortress" – but I’m wilfully quibbling. From the warped breakbeat escapades of “syro u473t8+e” and “PAPAT4”, to the insectoid “fz pseudotimestretch+e+3”, to the pixelated voice-samples throughout, Aphex Twin’s latest delivers in spades for those who crave a funky, ambitious, sonic head-rollicking.

Overleaf: listen to "minipops 67"

Comments

Decent review, but for info Minipops 67's been in RDJ's live set since 2007, so is unlikely to be derivative of Tim Exile's 2009 track!

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