As the internet explodes over news of Aphex Twin’s new album release, we thought we’d get nostalgic over a time that far preceded our clubbing existence, but heavily influenced what we know it as today. One of the most peculiar and mysterious identities in contemporary music, Richard David James / The Dice Man / Polygon Window / Blue Calx / AFX / Aphex Twin spent years cultivating many electronic music strains, acquiring an extensive catalogue of varying sounds which are all totally distinguishable as his own.
It has now been thirteen years since Aphex’s last album Drukqs was released, an album which offered an erratic mix of uptempo breakbeats and more acoustic instrumentation. Although it was not to all critics’ tastes, it maintained Aphex’s reputation as a completely unpredictable producer, revered by his rivals and worshipped en masse. So what will the upcoming album SYRO have in store for us? In dried-mouth anticipation, we have compiled our five favourite tracks by the principal master of musical trickery.
‘Alberto Balsalm’ (Warp, 1995)
This was a key track in determining Aphex Twin’s natural ability to create genuine emotion in ambient music. This track, a favourite of many DJs and producers, is timeless in its composition and still suitable for 6am mongs on the dancefloor.
‘Xtal’ (R&S, 1992)
The opening track of Selected Ambient Works 85-92, ‘Xtal’ was a perfect example of what Warp Records termed as IDM – intelligent dance music. Alongside Autechre, Boards of Canada and LFO, Aphex Twin’s music counteracted the less mindless genres of British rave music, with a more sophisticated sound that put the UK on the map of electronic music.
‘Flaphead’ (R&S, 1992)
Contrasting from the previous track, Aphex Twin also successfully experimented with more uptempo and aggressive musical styles. ‘Flaphead’ was a starting point for a lot of industrial techno that was to later emerge in the UK, a popular style which is still present in undercurrents of British urban music.
‘Windowlicker’ (Warp, 1999)
It comes as no surprise that this song would make the cut. With its nightmarish music video and the bizarre vocals deformed through pitch-bend, ‘Windowlicker’ clearly left its mark on British music by peaking at #16 in the UK Singles Chart in 1999. If only all chart music sounded like this…
‘000890569’ (Rephlex, 1993)
Released under his AFX alias on Aphex Twin’s third Analogue Bubblebath volume, the ‘000890569’ sound is now recognised as a classic rave anthem. With this track being over twenty years old though, it was one of the firsts to cultivate the distinctive, rave-orientated sound that came to characterise the masterful Aphex Twin.