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Drukqs

Aphex Twin

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Album Review

Despite threatening retirement several times, in 2001 Richard D. James finally released another Aphex Twin record. But for all this record tells listeners, he may still be in retirement. Spreading 30 tracks (most with unpronounceable titles) across two discs, Drukqs sounds less like a major new statement from electronica's best producer than the results of a Sunday afternoon's trawl through his hard drive for files he hasn't released before. Many songs here evoke the feel of recordings long since past, from the quiet ambient techno of his breakthrough, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, to the demonically extroverted programming of Richard D. James Album and the Come to Daddy EP. Stylistically, the record leans toward the later recordings, with many tracks here reprising the off-key melodies and overloaded drum programming of "Come to Daddy" or "Windowlicker." There's also little rhyme or reason to the program; James veers directly from a drill'n'bass firestorm ("Cock/Ver 10") to a delicate piano piece à la Erik Satie ("Avril 14th") to an acid-techno burner ("Mt. Saint Michel Mix") with barely a glance backward for transition. Of course, aside from all the criticism, the previously unreleased musings of Aphex Twin are still far more intriguing and solid than most producers' best releases. The opener, "Jynweythek Ylow," and "Ruglen Holon" are brilliant, inscrutable pieces reminiscent of a rusty, bygone music box or the gamelan music of Indonesia. And a few of the second-disc highlights, "Meltphace 6" and "Taking Control," chart a middle ground between the emotional ambience of early Aphex Twin and the wracked hysteria of his later work. Drukqs is a sprawling album that defies listeners to understand or enjoy it as a whole, and would've worked much better as a fan-only release than the long-awaited return of the techno vanguard's favorite producer.

Biography

Born: 18 August 1971 in Limerick, Ireland

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Exploring the experimental possibilities inherent in acid and ambience, the two major influences on home-listening techno during the late '80s, Richard D. James' recordings as Aphex Twin brought him more critical praise than any other electronic artist. Though his first major single, "Didgeridoo," was a piece of acid thrash designed to tire dancers during his DJ sets, ambient stylists and critics later took him under their wing for Selected Ambient Works 85-92, a sublime touchstone in the field of...
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Drukqs, Aphex Twin
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