Aphex Twin
Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2


4.0
excellent

Review

by TychoBrahe USER (2 Reviews)
January 24th, 2015 | 67 replies


Release Date: 01/23/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Aphex Twin's Latest Experiment Yields Mixed Results

After such a long hiatus from releasing material under his most famous moniker, Aphex Twin, Richard’s latest offering may come as a bit of a shock. 2014’s meticulously-produced and synth-laden “Syro” appeared shortly after a blimp was noticed looming over London bearing the enigmatic symbol we’re all familiar with. And here we are, a mere four months later with his latest experiment in hand, “Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2”. The thirteen track EP not only fails to pick up where Syro left off, but seems to have evolved almost entirely independent of its influence. Where Syro is an abundant, energetic and cohesive experience CCAI is a bit more disjointed, sparing and eccentric. Whether or not that difference in sound can be attributed directly to James’ vision, or to the restraints and limitations that the robots impose upon their master, isn’t entirely clear. As a literal interpretation of the EP’s title suggests, James has expanded into a physical medium and has taken on the not-so-easy task (just ask Squarepusher) of trying to tame a small colony of stubborn robots while perhaps, with enough badgering, convincing the machines to bring his sound across planes and into the natural world.

The experiment, which has been performed by others before, always appears appealing in it’s initial stages. Unfortunately for many who have tried before, and in certain instances for James himself, the theoretical yield gives way to the actual one, losing something in the process. In the case of James, however, he succeeded in breathing life into composition. The first track “diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13” steps the listener through a portal of ghostly sounding human voices only to be greeted by the ominous growl of the piano over the more distant clockwork-like clanking going on in the background. It’s shortly thereafter that we’re finally introduced to the leader, or leaders I should say, of the robots. The drums. Percussion is central to this EP with cymbals crashing, snares being struck, the thudding of bass, xylophones and bells alongside a host of other instruments being beaten and shaken in the background. The second track, entitled “snar2” after the robot featured and clocking in at only 20 seconds, serves as an instant reminder that you’re listening to an EP, and to a lesser extent that dogs are afraid of robots. “diskhat1” is fairly straightforward, the drums drag a goofy piano melody along through an echoing and oscillating landscape. “pian un1 aprej” is another small glimpse of robotic potential as a melancholy piano piece occasionally erupts in a frenzy of ascending keys.

The next song, “DISKPREPT4” is a highlight and a curiosity, making you wonder exactly what robots he’s using and how they’re set up during recording. It features a mischievous sounding melody you may have come to expect from the man and also provides a listen to robots straddling the threshold of what’s humanly possible while still retaining a distinctly organic sound. Immediately after you’re hit with drums, “hat 2b 2012b” is one of a few of such breaks and also indicates that vinyl is the preferred format here. Sadly, I only have the CD and thus cannot experience this EP at 45RPM (which is suggested along with 33 1/3 RPM on the vinyl itself). Listening to it lets you know that someone with the vinyl and the know-how could probably make something interesting out of these little bits. “disk prep calrec2 barn dance [slo]” is probably the biggest letdown here; it sounds like an ill-fated attempt at bringing something off of SAWII into existence, but where he could turn repetition and ambience into something beautiful with other technology at his disposal, this really just ends up being more annoying than anything else. “DISKPREPT1” succeeds where the previous track failed by teasing emotion out of the machines and also features the faint sounds of his kid in the background presumably looking at and discussing the robots. Sounds of life can be heard elsewhere throughout the EP(coughing, dogs barking,etc.), again reminding the listener that the sound has finally been released into the wild, or just pissing them off and causing them to complain about mastering. Whichever comes first.

The last two tracks are perhaps the best. “piano un10 it happened” is on par with some of his best piano pieces and,in my book at least , better than aisatsana and avril 14th, though I’m sure not everyone would agree. The EP concludes with “hat5c 0001 rec-4”, a track that starts off with menacing piano keys backed by more vibrant drumming and hissing cymbals until eventually a new instrument enters the groove, one that the more educated listener could probably identify. Whatever it is it provides a mesmerizing, hazy and smoke-filled kind of atmosphere to a song that drifts in and out in swells until the piano’s return, signaling that the journey is over. All in all this EP is arguably only a collection of seven songs with some beats and oddities thrown in for good measure. As with all experiments a risk of failure always exists, and while I certainly wouldn’t categorize this as such it isn’t without its flaws. I’m sure that fresh off the successful and accessible Syro this EP will be met with mixed reviews. At times it feels as though it is lacking, and while James certainly rose to the occasion it appears that the former master of one realm is more of a promising pupil in the next.


3.9/5


Edit: New EP is streaming on Spotify
http://open.spotify.com/album/5IUjJ4VcmUvZnGAONAp2IX

(Credit to danielito19)


user ratings (122)
Chart.
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tunaboy45
January 23rd 2015


15610 Comments


Oh yeah this is out, I'll have to give it a listen

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

HalcyonMusic
January 23rd 2015


85 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Good review, even though I disagree entirely. Pos.

TychoBrahe
January 23rd 2015


511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Good review, even though I disagree entirely. Pos."



Thanks man, it's my first review and I appreciate it. I'm expecting this EP to catch a lot of flack and depending on taste, I understand that. It took a few listens for me to warm up to it.



HalcyonMusic
January 23rd 2015


85 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I've listened to it a few times - I was thinking of reviewing it but I'll probably just leave it since you've posted one already. The EP just does nothing for me. Judging by the user ratings though, I'm in the minority here.

TychoBrahe
January 23rd 2015


511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fuck it. Post that shit anyways. ;)

Dr7
January 24th 2015


183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lots to like. Like experiments.

ShitsofRain
January 24th 2015


8026 Comments


#noexpectations

Digging: Dark0 - Xenotype

danielito19
January 24th 2015


11929 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review dude!

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2015


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Where Syro is an abundant, energetic and cohesive experience CCAI is a bit more disjoint, sparing and eccentric.' - should probably be 'disjointed'

'“disk prep calrec2 barn dance [slo]” is probably the biggest letdown here,' - a semicolon after 'here' would work better than a comma I feel

'Listening to it let’s you know' - should be lets



Not a bad first review though! Verging on a track-by-track but I think you've just about gotten away with it. Album sounds really interesting, I'll give it a listen.



TychoBrahe
January 24th 2015


511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, brother.

adr
January 24th 2015


11797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

damn need to check this

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2015


13296 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great first review, pos'd



my only issue is that this sentence reads strangely to me and could use some restructuring



"Whether or not this is the result of James’ own vision or the parameters imposed and difficulties faced in making the switch from the familiar electronic realm and into an alien one isn’t entirely clear."



could just be me though so up to you to decide



great review tho

Digging: Bauhaus - In the Flat Field

TychoBrahe
January 24th 2015


511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Mort Thanks. I changed it. Let me know if it sounds better. I have a tendency to write run on sentences and use the fuck out of some commas when I'm behind the keyboard. This is also my first time using a semicolon (at someone else's suggestion btw), and despite having written a number of papers throughout college I still have no idea what that shit is for. lol.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2015


13296 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah man i think it reads much better now



you should continue to review, i enjoyed reading this

Supercoolguy64
January 24th 2015


8055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sounds interesting, will jam. pos'd

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2015


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This does a good job of semicolon explanation; it's a bit silly, but makes sense I think =) Also, EP was as interesting as I hoped it'd be, was great fun!

LordePots
January 24th 2015


38257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Aphex Twin's Latest Experiment Yields Mixed Results




like everything hes done

Digging: Blondes - Warmth

Wolfhorde
January 24th 2015


15369 Comments


Good reading music.

Tunaboy45
January 24th 2015


15610 Comments


yeah grandad get with the times seriously paper has been obsolete for like 40 years

Ocean of Noise
January 24th 2015


9774 Comments


"mixed results" =/= 4.0 imo but great review anyway

Digging: Burzum - Filosofem



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