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Albums of 2014 #10: Aphex Twin: Syro

As the first collection of new music under the Aphex Twin name in 13 years, Syro was a big deal to many, but for me it was probably the most exciting thing to happen since my daughter’s first steps: Richard D. James was my first real fanboy obsession (the line in my bio about me liking music that sounds like a broken washing machine came from an ex after I spent two whole years listening to nothing but James and artists within his Warp/ Rephlex/ Planet Mu orbit), and remains one of my biggest musical heroes so, naturally, from the moment a big green blimp bearing the Aphex Twin logo appeared above a London beer festival in August to its release a month later, Syro had me buzzing with the kind of anticipation I hadn’t felt since the days before advance streams and album leaks, when the “first listen” was usually via Discman on the way home from the record store. Hopes were admittedly higher than expectations – how likely, really, was it that anything here would change my musical world the way “Girl/ Boy Song” or “Windowlicker” did? – but the former were rewarded and the latter far exceeded: James, in full-on mad professor mode, spewed forth an hour’s worth of joyous, brain-bogglingly complex mutant rave fare, twisting familiar electronic tropes (4/4 thump, junglist breaks, acid squiggles etc.) into unrecognisable new shapes and peppering the whole thing with weird, unsettling earworm melodies – and then capped it with a gorgeous and genuinely moving Satie-esque piano outro just in case we’d forgotten he was a gifted composer as well as a goonish, grinning gear nerd. Whilst it was anything but predictable, Syro broke with tradition by sounding like… well, an Aphex Twin album, but this was in no way a bad thing; even after giving the rest of the pack more than a decade to catch up, James’ triumphant return proved there’s still nobody out there that can do the things he can do the way he does them.


About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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