13 Songs, 27 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After an extended absence, electronica pioneer Aphex Twin re-emerged with the dense rhythms and intricate melodies of 2014’s justly celebrated Syro. As the follow-up to a long-awaited comeback album, the rigorously conceptual Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 seems at first like a typically perverse move, with Aphex mastermind Richard D. James stripping away the musical richness of Syro for a series of stark miniatures built around clattering drumkits and clanking pianos. While this might sound like a recipe for egghead electronic music at its most austere, the results occasionally have the gorgeous but haunted quality of his celebrated ambient releases. And the best tracks are often strangely funky, faintly recalling grimy vintage hip-hop, polyrhythmic postpunk, and old-school Chicago house.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After an extended absence, electronica pioneer Aphex Twin re-emerged with the dense rhythms and intricate melodies of 2014’s justly celebrated Syro. As the follow-up to a long-awaited comeback album, the rigorously conceptual Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 seems at first like a typically perverse move, with Aphex mastermind Richard D. James stripping away the musical richness of Syro for a series of stark miniatures built around clattering drumkits and clanking pianos. While this might sound like a recipe for egghead electronic music at its most austere, the results occasionally have the gorgeous but haunted quality of his celebrated ambient releases. And the best tracks are often strangely funky, faintly recalling grimy vintage hip-hop, polyrhythmic postpunk, and old-school Chicago house.

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About Aphex Twin

Few artists have had a more lasting impact on the shape of electronic music than Richard D. James. If the scene often feels shrouded in mystery, we have him to thank: Born in Ireland in 1971, the Cornwall, UK-based producer best known as Aphex Twin has gone by scads of aliases (Polygon Window, GAK, Power-Pill) and fostered wild speculation—that he lives in a bank vault, or drives a tank. His trickster persona has led to stunts like DJing with sandpaper and spectacles like his terrifying “Come to Daddy” video. But it’s James’ playful spirit and dazzlingly complex programming that have endured the most, spread across the ethereal fantasias of 1992’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, the mercurial drill ’n’ bass cadences of 1995’s ...I Care Because You Do, and 1996’s Richard D. James Album. Beyond the confines of IDM—that’s “intelligent dance music”—a subgenre that sprouted up around James’ mischievous rave mutations, his influence can be heard in James Blake’s crinkled sound design and Skrillex’s kinetic bass whirlwinds. Following 2001’s restlessly experimental Drukqs, home to the lovely piano sketch “Avril 14th,” which Kanye repurposed for 2010’s “Blame Game,” Aphex Twin went dark for more than a decade. Syro, his 2014 comeback, demonstrated a deeper, woozier sound, full of strange detunings and odd, shuddering grooves that have continued to distinguish his work across subsequent releases.

HOMETOWN
Limerick, Ireland
BORN
August 18, 1971

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