Review Summary: Richard D. James' songwriting skills and technological prowess meet his old-school acid-techno roots.
AFX – Chosen Lords
Some say that opposites attract. When it comes to the music of Richard D. James, more commonly known as Aphex Twin but in this release under the moniker of AFX, this is certainly true. This was forced upon the listener in his previous release, Drukqs, as jarring, skittering beats met lush piano melodies.
In Chosen Lords however, this curious mixture is much smoother and easier on the listener, suitable even for a dance floor (however, not your typical one). Meticulously mixed, the album matches fast, unrelenting beats with intricate synth melodies, making for a very satisfying blend of techno, electronica and drum and bass.
With no vocals or instantly memorable riffs or the like, this may be difficult listening for the average listener, but the trip this mesmerising music takes you on is worth it. The melodies throughout the album become enmeshed in your memory long after the 56 minutes of the best of Aphex Twin’s Analord series is over.
The song writing skills James has developed throughout his distinguished career are clearly evident, maintaining a level of energy for the duration of the album that could match the house or breakbeat music of any club. The beauty of Aphex Twin’s music is that it can be enjoyed anywhere, suiting armchair listeners as equally as partygoers craving Aphex Twin’s return to old-school acid-techno roots.
For many who enjoy the more commercial side of dance and electronic music, Chosen Lords could be their introduction into the beautiful realms of electronica and as James’ own record label, Rephlex, coined this music, ‘braindance’. This term, in my opinion, sums up this album, a thought-provoking twist on the too often monotonous dance scene.
If you’re already a major fan of Aphex, and have the money, you may be tempted into buying the vinyl series, but as an introduction this serves fine; it isn’t just a compilation, its flow demands it be listened to as a whole. Despite this, there are, as always, standout tracks, in my opinion, Fenix Funk 5, Crying In Your Face, Cilonen, and XMD 5a.