“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” Frank Zappa
This is one of the greatest albums ever fucking made. I am willing to design a robot to come to your house, stand on top of your kitchen table, and bleep long and loudly into your baby’s mouth until you believe this shit. This is like Joyce’s Ulysses made into electronic sound waves. Richard D. James (Aphex Twin/RDJ [who also goes by many other aliases]) is one of the greatest living composers. I have no doubt in my mind that future generations will study RDJ, and this album (released back in ’01), like we study fucking Beethoven. Despite the insanely tight cult following this album has since garnered, Pitchfork gave this album a 5.5 out of 10, Rolling Stone gave it a one out of five stars calling it, “most irrelevant album to date”, and Metacritic puts this shit at sixty-six out of a hundred. This all goes to show you that some motherfuckers wouldn’t know a good album from their own asshole, especially when they think their shit doesn’t stink.
Tracks like “Strotha Tynhe”, “Avril 14th”, “Nanou2”, and many more from this album are made entirely of computer-controlled acoustic piano. Huh? Ya, you read that shit right. A computer plays the fucking piano on this shit. For those unmoved and mistrusting motherfuckers, let me assure you, this isn’t just done for shits and giggles. With RDJ there’s always a fucking reason. These tracks are hauntingly beautiful and draw inspiration from composers like Satie and Cage. The recording of the piano is mic’d so close that you can hear the hammers inside of it swing before they strike their intended strings. Each chord and note is programmed with micro-delays in order to give it a more authentic, dare I say, human feel. The result? You hear the machine-ness of the piano and the human-ness of the machine. It’s as if RDJ is asking, “Why is the act of striking keys on a wooden machine called classical music and then typing keys on a metal machine electronic music?” or, more specifically, “When does electronic music become classical music and vice versa?” Somewhere in the middle of this album, the theoretical lines set between classical and electronic, composer and DJ, blur to the point of complete fucking oblivion.
Hold on to your seatbelts folks and bring a towel. This is a wild fucking ride.
The puzzles within this album are legion and have more layers than a fucking fabric store. Some of the track titles are even translations of Cornish words. RJD grew up in Cornwall. The track “Lornaderek” (Lorna and Derek are his parents’ names) RDJ’s parents wish him a happy 28th birthday. The deeper you go into this album the more personal, and beautiful, it becomes.
There’s a reason why violinist Daniel Hope covers “Avril 14th”, why songs off this shit have been sampled by Kanye, why the orchestra Alarm Will Sound and London Sinfonietta have covered a fuckton of songs off this album (“Cock/Ver10”, “Jynweythek”). It’s because those who get it, those who see and understand the magnificence of this album, there’s no longer a distinction between RDJ and composers like Cage, Reich, Nancarrow, and Ligeti. Evidently, some motherfuckers will never see this truth. For those many who have a hard time distinguishing such things:
Your own asshole— Is the hole sandwiched between your butt cheeks.
A really good fucking album—Drukqs.