Alberto Balsam

The weather’s gone horrible. The political situation is, um, tense, with no guarantee of a good outcome despite the surge of the last two weeks. The view on the TV is depressing beyond belief. Time for one of Aphex Twin’s most inventive and feel good tracks- Alberto Balsam floats by on a lovely warm synth melody. The rhythm track is stop-start percussion. I read somewhere that the hi-hat is a cigarette lighter being clicked, which makes me love it even more. Some of Richard D James’ stuff is brain rattling techno and fried acid and some of it is aural balm. This is the latter.

Alberto Balsam

Avril

April 14th saw a load of Aphex Twin articles published across the net, in honour of his 2001 track Avril 14th. I had a vague plan to post Avril 14th but forgot about it so here I am, two days late.

Avril 14th

Avril 14th has been used in Hollywood films, sampled by Kanye West and streamed 38 million times. It is a beautiful, minimal piano piece, two and a bit minutes long, Erik Satie-like, that sounds like a robot has been left with a piano in the small hours.

This is Avril 14th slowed down by 1000% by Evan Chapman, twenty minutes of ambient noise.

Delphium

As various sites and magazines have noted in the last two days Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works is now twenty five years old. How something so progressive and futuristic can be quarter of a century old is just one of those headspinners you have to live with. Pick anything from its twelve tracks at random and find music bewilderingly beautiful that sounds like nothing else made between 1985 and 1992, music it is impossible to get tired of. Like this one…

Delphium

Someone on Youtube has set opener Xtal against these visuals creating a juxtaposition nightmare, beauty and horror.

Cheetah

If you’re in need of cheering up but feeling slightly unsettled at the same time you could do worse than spend the next eight minutes with the new song from Aphex Twin. The ep Cheetah is out soon including a cassette release. I could play that in my car. This song, Cirklon 3, marries some ambient synths, a clattering drum track and a distorted bass with some bleeps borrowed from computer games. The video was directed by twelve year old Ryan Wyer from Dublin and will freak you out slightly in places.

Xtal

Inside the sleeve or cd case that features the front cover pictured above can be found some of the most beautiful, inspiring and groundbreaking electronic music you will ever hear. Some of the song titles are bewildering and give little away- Xtal,Green Calx, Hedphelym- and some hint at the future found inside- Heliosphan, Delphium, Pulsewidth, We Are The Music Makers. If you don’t own a copy of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Work 85-92, you really should.

Xtal

On

Until a couple of days ago I never knew there was a video for Apex Twin’s 1993 song On (from the e.p. On).

I caught it by accident on TV, on a music channel I flicked onto while waiting for a lift. On is a delicious track- it could be serene ambient were it not for the buzz and distortion of the bass and the harshish drums. Yet it still manages to be beautiful. I was then doubly surprised that the video was directed by Jarvis Cocker, making brilliant use of water dripping, a beach, a deep sea divers outfit, a cardboard cut out of Richard D James and stop-motion photography. The only shame with the video is it’s only three minutes forty five seconds long. Luckily the e.p. version is seven minutes long.

On

Polygons

Polygon Wood (West Corner) July 1917

Polygon Window, Aphex Twin, 1993. Still sounds like the future.

The new Aphex Twin album, Syro, is well worth some of your money if you haven’t got it already. Loads to explore within it from the warm synth action of Minipops 67 to the gorgeous minimalist piano at the end.