Aphex Twin released his Collapse EP last week and is now teasing something at four different locations in London on Aug. 18. In an Instagram post from his label, Warp Records, a gray map of London appears, stretching from the West End to the edge of Shoreditch. Four locations are marked with Aphex Twin’s logos with the addresses and times below. The caption reads “LONDON. LOOK OUTSIDE TONIGHT.”
His critically acclaimed Collapse project followed his 13-years-in-the-making 2014 Syro album, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. The music video for the first single, “T69 Collapse,” was pulled at the last minute of its TV premiere for failing the Harding Test, which is an epilepsy sensibility measurement for television content.
Aphex Twin isn’t mood music — it’s public transportation. The reclusive mastermind has built his undeniable legend on creating music that worms its way into minds, scrambling conventional electronic music expectations along the way. The artist carries on that tradition with a new five-track EP called Collapse, arriving via his own Warp Records imprint.
In typical Aphex Twin fashion, the EP is a front-to-back treasure trove of brain-bending analog sounds. “1st 44” blasts off with monstrous 808s, before detonating into a dizzying percussion jam, while “MT1 t99r2” brings things deeper into a detuned synth scape punctuated by twinkling bell-like plucks. “Abundance10edit” dials the energy down a bit for a tripped-out interlude, but the madness soon returns at breakneck speed with the acid-infused “pthex.”
The EP’s lead single, “T69 collapse,” was initially slated to premiere as a music video on Adult Swim, but failed TV seizure safety protocol for excessive strobing. While eyes may have been spared, minds are still very much in danger of melting from the electronic legend’s latest work.
Richard D. James is so cagey about his public presence that his fame seems to border on the unilateral. He can go 13 years without releasing a proper album, anonymously drop hundreds of unreleased tracks onto Soundcloud, and plant portentous Aphex Twin logos on edifices around the globe, all while operating more or less sub rosa. From there, his fans take these elusive “publicity” tactics and bring them to the attention of the world at large. James seems to cultivate himself as the ascetic studio craftsman, wishing only to toil away in obscurity but for his ravenous fans who shine the spotlight on him time and again.
By virtue of their ceaseless fervor and intuitive sleuthing, Aphex Twin constituents have willed Richard D. James into the enigmatic lodestar of electronic music that he’s known as today. So on Collapse, his latest EP under the Aphex name, there’s a certain antipathy and cynicism present, a kind of misanthropy that could be found in a hermit who revels in mystery and only offers fleeting, furtive indications of his existence. In typical Aphex Twin fashion, the percussion is busy and disorienting, yet his synthesizers suggest more of a malaise. On “1st 44,” the keyboards sound lethargic over the intricate, fussy rhythms. On “abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909],” they feel nebulous and errant, as the song meanders with uncertainty before finally disappearing into an ether of hazy synth sounds. Nervousness and disaffection are evoked continuously on the EP, and James channels them with a masterful sense of conflict between man and machine.
Collapse strives to alienate. The few human voices present on the record feel warped and unnatural; the child’s murmur on “MT1 t29r2” sounds monotone and unnervingly distant under the rest of the song’s production. “Give me your hand, my friend, and I will lead you to the land of abundance, joy, and happiness,” a woman assures us, with a suspicious amount of placidity, on “abundance10.” And while this soundbite is buried under sonic dust and other detritus, James proceeds to chop and screw it as the song progresses until the words “joy” and “happiness” are reduced to abstractions, more ominous than comforting. The overall effect is a bit trite, but it’s the captivating instrumentation here that redeems the track.
While James is here less austere than on Cheetah EP and less eccentric than on landmark release Richard D. James Album, Collapse nevertheless proves to be a serviceable Aphex Twin release at this point in his career. His knack for finding interesting textures and layers hasn’t been compromised nor has his willingness to build off of previous styles in his oeuvre. Collapse is a step away from James’s forays into ambient and jungle of the past, but the Aphex Twin identity still shines through in his inimitable take on IDM. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Over the last week, Aphex Twin has been teasing something with mysterious advertisements and billboards placed in select cities around the world. Today, Richard D. James has officially announced the Collapse EP, which will be out 9/14 on Warp Records. It’s five tracks long, and the first one that he’s sharing … More »
Aphex Twin is gearing up to release a new EP, Collapse. Last week, his logo started popping up on billboards in select cities around the world, and over the weekend, Warp Records started teasing the upcoming new material as well. The music video for its title track was scheduled to debut during Cartoon … More »
Aphex Twin‘s built considerable hype behind his next project with the appearance of his logo on posters worldwide —including London, Italy, Hollywood, and New York City. Now, a teaser that was posted on Aphex’ record label’s Twitter account, Warp Records, suggests fans might just reap the benefits of the escalating anticipation after all. The cryptic image contains some text clues, and while most of the decipherable words are broken up, a few words do appear multiple times — Collapse EP.
Last week, Aphex Twin’s famous logo started popping up around — or melting into — London, Hollywood, Italy, and Manhattan. Today, the symbol has made its way onto a cryptic press release from Warp Records. Two words we can make out: “Collapse EP.” Also: “A series of movements that match the … More »
With seemingly random plot points on a map now incuding Italy, London, New York, and Los Angeles, fans have begun to speculate about a possible run of live shows. Though fans aren’t entirely sure what to make of the teasers, the buildup is similar to that of his 2014 album Syro, which the veteran electronic musician announced by flying a promotional blimp over London. These similar tactics can’t help but suggest that whatever’s he’s got planned will be well worth the anticipation.