With the release of 2014’s Syro, and this years release of Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2 EP it makes me wonder… whatever happened to the dark ambient, glitchy, and (at times)noisy soundscapes of Aphex Twin…
I first fell in love with the sounds of Richard James as a kid in the late 90s while watching MTV’s now defunct electronic music video program, AMP. The first video I had seen of Aphex Twins was the video for the epicly loud and piercing track Ventolin. Blown away by the abrasive sounds coupled with the haunting exhaust and beat moments, I knew I would definitely love the future sounds of Aphex Twin and became hooked from that point on.
But what happened? The albums after 1995’s “I care because you do” still followed the path of a flexible multifaceted musician who used the sounds of the future(and the past) to create multilayered soundscapes that varied from the dark and sinister to the beautiful and minimal. Richard D. James, EPs Windowlicker & Come To Daddy, and the monumental double album Drukqs all contained tracks that were full of new sounds and complex diverse arrangements that used haunting samples alongside piercing noises paired with beautiful piano and music box arrangements that grew and expanded from Richards previous sound of his Selected Ambient Works period.
Once I heard the return of Aphex Twin after a very long absence(at least as his alias Aphex Twin)I was definitely looking forward to an even greater expansion of his previous work, the sounds I had fallen in love with. Unfortunately though I was disappointed in the sparse minimal beat arrangements that came with the release of Syro. Granted many fans may say its Richards return to his more minimal form and granted some of the moments from Syro & Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2 ARE good, they definitely seem to lack the emotion and diversity that Richards work before this period gave to the world and the sounds that made me personally fall in love with the abstract twisted art of Richard James.
To bring light to this unfortunately gone period of Richard’s, I’ve compiled a 32+ minute sampler of some of my favorite tracks from the albums “i care because you do”, Richard D. James, Come to Daddy ep, and Drukqs for your listening pleasure & to easily expose these past sounds to possible new fans that may fall in love with this period of Aphex Twin just as I had! But be sure to download/purchase the entire albums to really dive into the sounds of each album just as Richard created them. Also below you can find the amazingly dark videos for the tracks “Come To Daddy”, the full length mini-movie by Chris Cunningham for “Windowlicker”, and of course my first exposure to the Aphex Twin world, “Ventolin”. Enjoy!
all edited images © jermaine jagger/harpursbizaar 2015