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Album Review

In 1975 there was an experimental project between Robert Fripp and Brian Eno titled Healthy Colours, where they set their basic rhythm box in motion and noodled around it half-heartedly for 24 minutes, broken up in four plodding and beeping parts. Such was the case 20 years later, when Warp Records found a home for this similarly bland and lesser-known release from modern-day electronic mastermind Richard D. James (aka, Aphex Twin and a half-dozen other aliases). This is a four-song EP that has a basic, clean, and unprovoking sound that must have been dug up from his vast archives of unreleased material. GAK is surprisingly uninspired considering who it's by: a trend-setter, a rule-breaker, and a pioneer. All of these tracks seem interchangeable: four/four beat, identical bpms, generic basslines, simple keyboard riffs, dry production, and the occasional vocal sample as a garnish. It's like trying to make up as many words as one can with the first four letters in the alphabet — eventually one will figure out there's not much to work with. Admittedly, anyone who's as prolific as James can fall a little from grace. There's such little similarity between the pieces that in all likelihood it's as if he took a couple song sketches to try out some new equipment and decided to release an EP, albeit anonymously. Warp has engaged in this sort of secrecy before, with uncredited one-offs from novelty titles like "Rubber Johnny" and "Woodenspoon." Word gets around, however, when obscure Aphex Twin material surfaces, and the rabid fan will find (and tolerate) a wide variety of it. It's known among his followers how young James was when he first started recording, so perhaps GAK was the result of a gentle high-school daydreamer without much ever coming to mind. Most collectors will reluctantly admit — this is a release to own, rather than listen to.

GAK - EP, Gak
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