Released in 2014 Syro is certainly not a new album and it came 11 years after the previous Aphex Twin record, which is a long time to wait for any die-hard fan or follower. I remember his previous album entitled ‘Druqks’ received mixed reviews, mainly due to the inconsistency of decent full length tracks. As a strange run-through concept album however, I thought the album was strong and that it felt like a glitchy-beat journey interspersed with fragments and recordings of his life.

‘Syro’ seems to adopt a more conventional album composition, with fairly lengthy and meaty tracks throughout. A quick listen to some of the tracks and you hear that he’s taking it back to his old school sound of melancholy synths and repeating hooks, rather than the frantic drum & bass beats that featured so heavily on ‘Drukqs’. This is a more chilled out album therefore that’s more subtle and accessible than ‘Drukqs’.FINAL MASTER SYRO DIGIPAK.indd

The album starts off strong with it’s intro track ‘minipops 67’ which is a delightfully entertaining composition made up of bouncy synths, deep bass and a slightly funky rhythm backbeat. It was released as a single and did well to catch people’s attention again. Aphex twin also keeps to his signature production style which is a kind of gritty, lo-fi sound whilst adding ingenious well-timed sound effects or production techniques that change and morph in satisfying ways. Admittedly this album will not be for everyone (especially those who are not familiar to his previous work) however there’s a lot to admire when given a second chance or a deeper listen.

I took a while to warm to this album, however after a gap and another 2 – 3 listens I began to hear the nuances and appreciate it more. The thing that Aphex Twin always does well is create a soundscape and a mood in his music. Often it is the repeating rhythms or droning melodies that you eventually succumb to and enter Aphex Twin’s world. A couple of tracks on this album such as ‘CIRCLONT14’ and ‘syrou473t8+e’  are examples of this, but done in a mature way as if the 10+ year album gap has given him more finesse in his music. The melodies are also fast paced, varying yet subtle and intricate, making your brain pay attention due to the sheer detail going on.

The album ends on a tranquil piano track named ‘aisatsana’ with background garden & bird tweeting sounds. It’s a calming way to end that acts as a kind of reset track after hearing all the rhythmic and heavily textured tracks beforehand. Most previous Aphex Twin albums have a disturbing element to them, however this album doesn’t at all. It seems to concentrate only on the music and technicality of the production, rather than throwing in any disturbing samples, hooks or soundscapes. This may disappoint certain fans, however it does show off just how talented Aphex Twin is by creating a full album with nothing but hardware skills, music knowledge and imagination. A strong album as a whole; worth checking out the first and last tracks of this album even if you’re not such an Aphex Twin fan.

Daniel Brown

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