Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin returned last year after a break of 13 years with a cracking new album “Syro”. Less than 6 months later he follows this up with a horse of a totally different colour. Here we find this incredibly creative artist concentrating more on texture, ambience and mood. Similar in many ways to Selected Ambient Works 85-92, here he is  exploring an entirely different avenue to that of Syro.

As the title suggests he has built an array of contraptions that allow him to control instrumental sounds on a computer. From the outset one is struck by the exploratory nature of the pieces as various percussive sounds clatter and stumble together. At one point I was expecting Tom Waits to commence singing and was slightly disappointed when he didn’t. As an EP some of the tracks are very short, one piano piece being only 9 seconds.

The piano features a great deal on these tracks and many different sounds are produced plucking, striking and generally vibrating the strings. Of most interest are the more beat heavy tracks but these to my mind lack the magic associated with classic Aphex Twin masterpieces. They do however have a great depth of texture and are a pleasure to listen to.

In a recent interview Richard D. James has declared that Syro was an exercise in cleaning out the cupboards. Putting an end to his previous work and preparing the way for something new. This EP may give us some indication of where he intends to go but I can’t help feeling that much of it reflects someone who just had to get this out of their system. Hopefully now, having explored, investigated and released this, he will now go on to produce something new to match the quality of Syro and Windowlicker.

Islwyn Paul Mainwaring

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