Aphex Twin, “Cheetah”

Aphex_Twin-2016-Cheetah_EP_hi-resAphex Twin
Cheetah EP
WARP
7/10

No matter how you regard his recent output, we can probably agree that there’s a staggering uniqueness to Aphex Twin. The moniker itself denotes a mischievous approach to electronic music, an approach furthered by the cryptic posters announcing his new Cheetah EP and the music video directed by a twelve-year-old. Cheetah adds yet another facet to this richly modulated dimension, where analog minimalism is deftly executed through crisp beats and slickened textures. This is Aphex in retrograde, and it’s perhaps his very first concept album—albeit in EP form.

Taking its name from an obtuse brand of synthesizer, the EP seems to arrive pre-programmed with seven pulsating parts. The first three songs are effectively title tracks, and opener “CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]” unfurls with a meditative bounce. Wispy sounds seem to rise like vapors as it generates an ambience that is absent from his recent works. The ethereal theme resumes for “CHEETAHT7b,” but the bounce is more diverse, culminating in a jam on the digital didgeridoo. The lead single follows soon after, in all its hummed loveliness. In fact, “CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]” seems to distill the essence of Aphex Twin, marrying the sweet to the sinister and bubbling with excitable understatement.

The album closer differs between formats. Vinyl copies end quite nicely on “CIRKLON 1,” a ruminative song with trumpeting electronics, while the digital version includes bonus track2X202-ST5,” which shares the mechanics of the EP but proceeds at a more restless pace. Either way, it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed in this release; Cheetah’s epigrammatic process is simply astounding. These songs worm their way into the consciousness, lasting long after they’re played.

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