Aphex Twin
Richard D. James Album


3.5
great

Review

by Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (116 Reviews)
October 17th, 2013 | 44 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 24)

Apparently, Aphex Twin performs live. I cannot imagine what people do at those shows. You can’t dance to this, but you can’t really sit still either and I cannot even begin to imagine the terror of taking club drugs to it. So what are those crowds doing? Do they just sit around and twitch? Or maybe they bring their laptops and hack things.

Richard Davis James makes music to cleave your brain in half. His melodies pull toward the chiller side of IDM while his nefarious drums make sure you never forget that face on the cover. James programs drums like virtuoso guitarists shred guitar solos. They never fall into one easily definable pattern, instead rattling incessantly like a swarm of chain guns all firing at different moving targets. Tracks like “4” and “Girl/Boy Song” would be prime chill-out fare if it wasn’t for those drums popping off like firecrackers.

The Richard D. James Album stays compelling because the tension between these two elements almost never lets up. The songs never sink too far into ambiance but never go full out jungle overload either. Instead, James pulls both elements right into the center of every song, where they do epic battle for your amusement. Children’s voices crash head on into an ever-mutating brew of desk pounding bass hits and tongue pops on “To Cure A Weakling Child”. “Girl/Boy Song” sports majestic strings that beg for freedom from the percussion’s cruel master.

Aside from the opening 4 tracks, the rest of the album functions more as a collection of singles. There is only a light attempt at ebb and flow and most of the back half could be sequenced in any order. All the songs here are good but the roughly sequenced back half does mean a full cover-to-cover listen can get exhausting. And that isn’t even counting the bonus tracks, including the infamous “Milkman”, which most people seem to think is funny, I think its terrifying.

As a figurehead for the IDM scene, Richard James stands alone. Not only has he produced some of the most indisputably important music in IDM but also he has vaulted singles into the UK top 40, even a top 20, without compromising his style. His creepy leer has become his trademark, recognized in unnerving music videos and album covers. The Richard D. James Album remains his most accessible collection of work. It’s a brisk run through of some of the best music drum and bass has to offer. Just don’t linger too long on that album cover, it’ll give you nightmares.



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user ratings (919)
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4.1
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Comments:Add a Comment 
HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Full series: http://badgersenate.com/

New review every Tuesday and Thursday

Yeah I'm pretty sure people arent going to be cool with that score but this album has never clicked with me.

Pheromone
October 17th 2013


3510 Comments


Haven't even heard of them, any good song recs?

Digging: Doves - Lost Souls

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Windowlicker" will get you on the right path.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1668 Comments


Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is always a great place to start.

demigod!
October 17th 2013


44423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice review. I really hope you end up reviewing some Boards of Canada at some point.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's comin up!

Incisionistic
October 17th 2013


28 Comments


Nice.

Cipieron
October 17th 2013


3508 Comments


yeah, this is one of his best

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2013


31169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You can’t dance to this,


Well you kinda can, but...

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2013


10203 Comments


"Or maybe they bring their laptops and hack things."

Best line here, oh god.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Acanthus
October 17th 2013


9543 Comments


Really enjoyed the review style/wording, as well as the first paragraph!

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well you kinda can, but...

^^

I guess you could but its not the most likely thing in the world.

tommygun
October 17th 2013


24932 Comments


i dance to this when nobody is watching

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

tommygun
October 17th 2013


24932 Comments


sweet rev btw

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2013


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, I'm really surprised noones gotten peeved about that score yet.

tommygun
October 17th 2013


24932 Comments


hmm maybe

album is a tad divisive

a fair few people i've spoken to who like but not love it seem to all say similar things (that they dig the smoother jams like 4 and fingerbib etc but the harsher drum stuff rubs them the wrong way)

bach
October 17th 2013


12609 Comments


Everything on this album rubs me the right way.

Digging: Tim Hecker - Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again

tommygun
October 17th 2013


24932 Comments


same

bach
October 17th 2013


12609 Comments


5'd hard. Nice review btw

Azn.
October 17th 2013


5609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review but you spelled "detriment" wrong in there somewhere





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