After the disappointment of Drukqs, Richard David James’s previous album, it’s understandable why there was so much hype around SYRO, the electronic musician’s latest release – the cryptic release notes in the press, the sheer timespan that the album was developed over, and even the simple fact it is the first Aphex Twin release in over eight years was enough to get fans in a frenzy.
This album will not spawn thousands of new Aphex Twin fans. Nor will it change the very landscape of music itself as previous albums did. What it is, however, is an album that sums up the nature and style of James into a neat, just-over-an-hour-long package of experimental music with sprinklings of techno and ambient music.
minipops 67 [120.2]
“180db_” has those hints of drum and bass that were first arriving on to the scene in the late 90s and 00s, the increasingly eclectic synthesiser becoming more broken as the track progresses highlighted by the transparent drumbeat and breaks.
Supposedly, James frequently samples the voices of his wife and children throughout the album – I say supposedly as they are distorted to the point of no return; ghostly, android-like tones which are overlain on a baggy hip-hop beat which burst out high-hat notes on occasion are the centerpiece of “produk 29”.
The album closer seems like a strange choice, especially after the lightning-pace beats in “s950tx16wasr10 [earth portal mix]” – the piano notes slowly entered my ears, and I found myself wondering whether my iPod shuffled without me noticing. An unexpected finish, and the track is sure to be an instant classic amongst fans.
A live performance
SYRO is a return to form for Aphex Twin – one listen is not enough for someone to appreciate the amount of layering and post-production work that has gone into this record, and even though it leaves something to desire in terms of innovation, it’s hard to say that this album is not an extremely enjoyable adventure through the electronic music of Richard David James.
This article was written by Mo Hafeez