Favourite of a Favourite
So here's a track by track of the Richard D James album by Aphex Twin.
4 - A statement of intent, and an ambitious one. The marriage of his fancy new grown-up Orkester-esque soundbank with the ability to digitally manipulate every microsecond of sound into those terrifying snare rushes that sound like living, fire-breathing monsters of fire and brimstone that rise up from under the haunting melodies and snap at you like crocodiles in the moat of his pretty fairytale castle. And it is just adorable, his inability to resist just tagging the song like a graffiti artist - "Richard? Yup!" - I mean, who else *could* it be making this kind of thing, really?
Cornish Acid - This song never seemed to fit. Not Acid, not particularly Cornish either. With a name like that, it should have been great. I mean, mental images of Mr. Twin strapping on his helmet and his belt and going down the Twin Mine and coming up with great bucketloads of Cornish Acid bubbling and spilling all over the dancefloor, that is such a compelling construction. And the song sounds nothing like. A blemish on an otherwise perfect album and the thing that makes it 9/10 not 10/10.
Peek8675309 - aaah, that opening modem makes me laugh so much. There's nothing that dates a song from that era quite so much as everyone in the world who thought that sampling their modem and sticking it on their track was a great idea because it's such a neat sound (and kind of an in-joke during an era when only nerds were really online.) The burbling of the bassline is just such a wonderful sound, like a happily bubbling pot or maybe a witches cauldron.
Fingerbib - yay! I'm 6 again! So playful and childlike. Or maybe that odd sense you get when you've stayed up all night on mushrooms until the sun comes up and the telly starts showing kids television and you're entranced by the colours and the sounds and then suddenly you realise - your buzz is actually wearing off, and hang on, kids TV is actually totally *warped*.
Carn Marth - a lot like the actual hill, it doesn't look so massive from a distance, until you get about halfway up and you realise that it's a LOT steeper than it looks and you've tried to walk up it way too quickly and whoa, that's really kinda exhausting. The indignant trumpet noises that come in about 0:40 totally make this song. (Again with the modem samples, dude, we get it)
To Cure A Weakling Child - again, just perfection. The combination of this jaunty, childlike melody with the really stately, almost classical instrumentation is just devastating. And then that wild creature of a beat beneath it. It's a total inversion the whole idea of a dance track - that the propulsive driving rhythm is carried in the melodic instruments and the drums are there to provide texture and the *feel* of the piece.
Goon Gumpas - the theme to a nostalgic pastoral 1980s BBC comic-drama serial with lots of shots of vintage cars gadding about with pre-raphaelite hair flowing in the open air, set in the Edwardian age and probably starring Nigel Havers... and I mean that in the nicest possible way. This is like the Merchant-Ivory of Aphex. Just immaculate.
Yellow Calx - "Oops, sorry, did you forget that I could be creepy and odd and bring the intriguing experimental radiophonics in the midst of all this pastoral gorgeousity? Ooh, good. Well, here's a lovely little reminder for you." ::big aphex grin::
Girl/Boy Song - The exact moment that Richard enters his Imperial Phase. Never has such a statement of utter control and mastery of one's art and "look what I can do" resulted in such a deceptively simple and compelling piece of music. Who knew he could be so... unrelentingly *pretty*? This is a piece that's going to be taught in music composition classes in the 24th Century. Yeah, sure, it's overhyped and it's the second favourite song of "people who don't really like Aphex" (after Avril 14) but the thing is - I NEVER get bored of this song. It's a perfect orgasm every time, not a note out of place, not a beat out of alignment (even in the mad snare rush gone mental bits.) It *is* that good.
Logan Rock Witch - weirdest album closer ever, especially coming on the heels of GBS. It's like Richard lets all the toys out of the box and they run amok killing everything in sight. Don't ever let your guard down with this man, don't ever forget that under the stately melodies and the immaculate cello sequencing, he is a total fucking weirdo. And we love him for it.