Aphex Twin
Collapse


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
December 5th, 2018 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An elaborately engineered matrix, sprawling in scope and bottomless in depth.

One day, I may look back at Aphex Twin as the artist that got me into electronic music. It's a strange feeling to be delving into Richard James' music for the first time now, considering that has been around - and popular - since the early 90's. However, musical appreciation knows not logic or timing. It’s a sporadic, often fleeting love, and one that hit with unexpected fervor on the project’s 2018 EP, Collapse.

This album is absolutely bursting at the seams with energy. The percussion drives that, keeping the tempo ramped up the majority of the time while allowing for critical pauses and momentum swings that prevent Collapse from ever arriving at a point of stagnancy. James laces that formula with a variety of intriguing techniques, fitting inventive, texture-rich IDM alongside bustling futuristic synths and reverb-drenched vocal samples that are scarcely audible. All the ideas swirling around this release give it an aura of complexity, this elaborately engineered matrix sprawling in scope and bottomless in depth.

With each cut hovering in the five-to-six minute range, compositional diversity marks the extended play’s greatest asset. Each song twists and turns compulsively, shifting direction on a whim yet not so frequently as to totally disorient, while allowing the listener ample time to sink into each unique atmosphere before James redirects focus elsewhere. Take album highlight ‘1st 44’ for instance, which commences with a blast of computerized, layered beats, but is eventually smoothed out by electronic ripples carrying the impact of a stone dropped in a pond – where one can almost envision the album art represented sonically. By the final minute we’re immersed underwater, outstretching our limbs into a spacey, echoed state of zen-like ambience. James manages to fit entire universes into his songs without them sounding too hectic or overly concentrated.

The praise bestowed on ‘1st 44’ befits the entire EP: it’s amazingly dense, but manages to avoid sounding like it. You can listen to a song like ‘T69’ twenty times and still discover small quirks that evaded your senses on all of the previous run-throughs. Aphex Twin’s combination of vigor and restraint makes Collapse quite the dynamic piece, one that is always deeply rooted in the present but still able to swerve on a moment's notice. For an artist that has been around this long, the work sounds incredibly fresh, bubbling with raw creative energy while retaining the benefit of experienced, masterful hands controlling the wheel.

Experienced Aphex Twin fans may already know what to expect from Collapse. However, it says something about Richard James that after twenty six years he still sounds this viable and is able to recruit new fans with something as comparably dismissible as an EP. Regardless of your familiarity with Aphex Twin – or even IDM/electronic music – this is a damn good record that is worth your time. Sink into Collapse, and let it sweep you up in its collage of vast, intricate atmospheres.



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user ratings (127)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
December 5th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This might be my first ever IDM/electronic review. This EP alone has me so hyped to dive further into the genre.

This is just a very quick write-up and I lack any previous experience with Aphex Twin, so please excuse the lack of context. This really needed a review, though. Add this to your list of 2018 EPs to check out before the new year.

Digging: Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust

Demon of the Fall
December 5th 2018


9138 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review.



This has been on semi-heavy rotation since release as Aphex is always a staple during those times when I just want to throw on some ambient electronic stuff. Having said that this is busier (at times) than any of his early works & as ‘Richard D James’ is my favourite release these days that’s definitely a good thing. His discog is noticeably varied at this point. Liking the jungle-like direction he’s taken here.

Digging: Skee Mask - Compro

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 5th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Demon, given how good I found this I'll inevitably end up back tracking through his discog. Hopefully my praise of this doesn't feel silly/ill-informed down the road.

ProjectFreak
December 5th 2018


3201 Comments


Great writeup Sowing. As someone else who grew up on post-hardcore/pop-punk and slowly dabbled in electronic music, may I recommend Jon Hopkins next? Immunity remains my favorite electronic release of all time

Avagantamos
December 5th 2018


6342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice to see this finally reviewed, well done. if you're looking to dive more into IDM my suggestion would be Autechre. They have one of the most incredibly consistent discographies ever (especially considering how much material they're put out) and have been unrivaled in IDM ever since Richard stopped raising the bar after drukqs, imo

Wildhoney
December 6th 2018


301 Comments


I adored Syro, i gotta check this and now I think I finally will. Cool review as always. Taken together, your first two sentences make it sound like it was you who was around - and popular - since the early 90s. Maybe you were, idk, but I think you're talking about Richard lol. Just a lil nitpick

Dewinged
December 6th 2018


13066 Comments


Nice! This was in hard need of a review. I can finally remove it from the list.

Digging: Kaelan Mikla - Not Eftir Not

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 6th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@PF: Thank you. I listened to Hopkins' latest and came away feeling rather lukewarm about it. Is his other stuff different stylistically, or just a better version of the same approach?

@Avagantamos: Thanks! I'll have to get around to checking Autechre if it sounds anything like this.

@Wildhoney: Thank you! Lmao I re-read those two sentences together and you're totally right. I restructured it to come across how I intended. (I've been around since the late 80's, but was never popular!)

@Dewinged: Thanks! What list? Have you given this a listen yet?

Dewinged
December 6th 2018


13066 Comments


The list I made of 2018 albums that needed review. This one was sitting at the top with a lot of ratings so it's cool it got reviewed.

And no, I haven't jammed it but I'm not a fan of Aphex Twin myself.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 6th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh forgot that list existed...cool

ProjectFreak
December 6th 2018


3201 Comments


his other stuff doesn't vary too much from that formula, I just think Immunity executes it a bit better than Singularity. His older stuff is a little...lighter? Like, remember how the first track on Viva La Vida opens? That's a Hopkins sample. Shame it didn't grab you like it did me, though.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 6th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll check it at some point regardless because I'm on a huge electronic kick right now...

aquatichero69
December 6th 2018


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Always love me some Aphex Twin. Is it music? Is it an aural assault? No one will ever know.

Evok
December 6th 2018


7616 Comments


hot diggity damn

Digging: DUPLOC Records - DUPLOC Selects - Chapter One

Avagantamos
December 6th 2018


6342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I find t69 collapse [durichroma] to be much better than the original cut T69 Collapse. Mainly because the middle section goes in a more interesting direction

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 7th 2018


28732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't get enough of this. I think this EP singlehandedly launched a new interest in electronic music for me.

Wubs
December 8th 2018


524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review dude, yeah 2nd that Autechre recommendation. They will make you rethink music

Digging: Astor Piazzolla - Libertango

asaf
December 8th 2018


944 Comments


yea.... you need to listen to the first few minutes of Syro & drukqs and then come back to this. nice job turning onto this, better late af than never.... i also forget that i’m 32 now lol.

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
December 8th 2018


19985 Comments


sowing you'd probably hate autechre tbh, they sound nothing like this. IDM is one of those genres that describes an approach more than a sound, so you get a huge range of different stuff that gets thrown under the umbrella.

aphex is inspired more by acid/drum & bass/jungle so i think you'd find it more fruitful to explore things with those flavors. definitely listen to The Tuss, it's an RDJ side project that really set the tone for his recent Aphex releases.

Relinquished
December 8th 2018


38566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

disagree hype, you know more than most they have their accessible points of entry. sowing you may dislike autechre’s new-ish output (likely most that is post 2001) but Amber, Tri Repetae, LP5, Oversteps, Move of Ten, Anvil Vapre, and Garbage are all ace and easy to get into if you liked this enough.



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