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Aphex Twin



Oct 16, 2014 Aphex Twin Bookmark and Share

Each genre has its gods. Rock has the Stones, pop has The Beatles, but when it comes to electronic music there are few who could rival Aphex Twin‘s truly individual and pioneering production. As a result, over the years Richard D. James has inspired a dedicated discipleship of worshippers, much like Warp label-mates Boards of Canada. When plans of his sixth full-length under the Aphex moniker came to light earlier this summer after 13 years of silence following his last studio record, the blogosphere went into the sort of meltdown reserved for nuclear disasters. Syro is an album many expected to never see the light of day, so does it live up to the hype?

The short answer is, unfortunately, no. While Syro is still a brilliant representation of James’ genius, it lacks the pioneering spark that made him so exciting in the first place. This is not necessarily his fault. Aphex Twin’s music was so revolutionary 20 or so years ago that, in his absence, everyone else has caught up. So while many moments on the new LP are arguably musically as good as much of his back catalogue, it no longer has the same visceral, evolutionary energy of something truly new.

However, there are some truly great songs on this record. “XMAS_EVET10 [120][thanaton3 mix]” is an introspective gem, calming despite the speed of the beat patterns. “PAPAT4 [155][pineal mix]” is a brilliant skittering homage to seemingly both ‘80s synth pop and ‘90s jungle, while “180db_ [130]” sounds like the soundtrack to some sort of rave on a spaceship.

Parallels can be drawn to other Warp artists in particular, notably the last Plaid album with its similar technical intricacy and depth of the beats, or the eclectic erraticism of Squarepusher. The drum and bass foundations that Aphex helped to carve in the past have echoes in much of today’s EDM scene, and while this is still enjoyable on Syro, it feels a tad rose-tinted. Production technology has progressed immeasurably in the last 13 years, a truth seemingly lost on Syro, and the comforting analogue warmth that the record exerts is initially appealing but grows tiresome too quickly. This record never puts Aphex Twin’s legacy into question, yet it may ponder his continuing relevance. (www.warp.net/records/aphex-twin)

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