Aphex Twin - Drukqs (Warp)
By Sheikh Ahmed
We've listened to every moment, every track, every electronic nuance that Mr. Richard D. James has conjured up and we still can't make up our collective minds.
Favouring his more manic experiments under various psuedonyms on his own Rephlex label (the incredible 'Analogue Bubblebath 3' EP as AFX, breakbeat tomfoolery as Caustic Window on the 'Joyrex' series of EP's and the hyperspeed drill'n bass headfuck of those 'Hangable Auto Bulb' EP's)
Well this is his first 'proper' release since the 'Richard D. Lames' album back in '96. Thirty tracks of new material spread over 2 CD's. His flirtations with ambience, drum'n bass, hardcore, manic electronics and the avant garde are all here. With the album wildly flicking between styles track-to-track, it seems his attention span is as short as ever. So don't let the peaceful intro of 'Jynweythek Ylow' on CD 1 fool you, this short ambient piano-led piece is as beautiful as anything off 'Selected Ambient Works' but is followed soon after by the likes of 'Vordhosbn','Mt Saint Michel Mix Plus St. Michael's Mount' and 'Omgyjya Switch 7'. Ehere jagged jungle battles with seemingly random analogue pulses. As the tracks progress the layers of noise and Powerbook drums are piled on until everything cresends to an unholy electrical noise. Frantic and fun but hardly human.
More welcome are the avant garde ambient strains of 'Kladfvgbung Micshk', 'Strotha Tynhe' and 'Gwely Mernans'. The former with gamelan style percussion offset against melodies straight from a spy movie. The latter, sounding like a power station, is better with the bass cranked up. By complete contrast, 'Cock/ver 10' is an impressive exercise in cathartic hedonism. Someone screaming midway, "Come on you cunts, let's have some Aphex acid" is cue for him to reply with a 303 overload. One to terrify your neighbours with. CD two kicks off abruptly with the excellent '54 Cymru Beats', where staggered breakbeats slice their way through a maelstrom of computer game bleeps, rave style yelps and fucked synths.
So, an album of extremes. As a result, it's quite demanding to listen to in one sitting and we can imagine it would be better to dip into this periodically. His ability to coax these sounds, textures, melodies and rhythms out of computer technology is still astonishing and shouldn't be overlooked. While it can be said that there's probably three basic styles on this album and all thirty tracks are slight variations, it's nonetheless a style that exclusive to him. Dividing us lot here at absorb, some thought it lacked warmth and emotion. while others proclaimed it as genius. Me? I'm gonna give it a 10 (out of 10)