Review by Isoproponal|
4 stars out of 4
This release from the unspeakably influential electronica overlord Aphex
Twin is one of his most complete and accessible works. Here we get a
typically inspired fusion of orchestral textures and hyperdrive, frenetic
drum beats, along with distorted choirs, sampled children, and shortwave
radio transmissions. That sounds contrived, doesn't it? Well...it
sounds like baloney but this really does gel. This schizoid concoction
really goes to work on your mind. You might know "To cure a
weakling child" from that Orange ad that ran ages and ages ago.
"Fingerbib" is a happy little Kraftwerk-style tune
which slowly begins to unravel until it actually becomes scary.
"4" combines hyper-complex drum'n'bass with a lush piece for
strings. "Goon Gumpos" is a festive Christmastime techno romp,
sleigh-bells and all. And, for the hardcore Aphex Twin fans, there's the
latest instalment in the "Calx" saga, "Yellow Calx"
which is absolutely gorgeous, no other word for it.
A lot of this album, especially "To Cure A Weakling Child" and
"Goon Gumpos", is really evocative of the English
countryside: the claustrophobic density of much modern electronica
is missing wholly here, resulting in music which dwells in a rich
and elevated space of it's own. There's a really enticing blend
here, of fast and furious cutting-edge avant-garde music, and a touching
melodicism with genuine emotional impact. Rather than dominate the listener
with "Ooh, aren't I clever?" programming, there's a real spirit
of fun and adventure in the music on this record.
If you liked the music on that Pirelli ad from about four years
ago (the black runner with tyres for feet), you'll love this record (Aphex
did that too!). If you like laid-back ambience a la Fila Brazilia or the
Orb, you'll like this record (particularly the good humour). If you like
the Super Furry Animals, you'll definitely like this record. Aphex Twin
has always had a fresh take on techno, ambient, drum'n'bass, whatever,
imbuing his records with a sense of playful experimentation, weird and
warped humour, and the occasional heartbreaking melody. This album is
retty close to being an all-the-way-thru, play-it-once-then-play-it-again
classic. In this genre, that's pretty rare, and gives you an idea of how
special this record is. Even if you're a newbie to electronica or not a
fan, the combination of weird humour and out-and-out bravado on display
on this concise little gem (about 35 minutes) is instantly appealing. I
loved it, in case you haven't guessed. It really messes with your perception!
If you dig the extremes, be it absolute 'ardkore drum'n'bass, or the most
blissed out lush ambience, or really bizarre experimental stuff, you're
really going to have a ball with this album. But you don't have to be a
headcase to love this music.