Aphex Twin, Syro
For Aphex Twin to surface now, precisely thirteen years since the last record (Drukqs in 2001), is a frankly startling reminder of how far and deep the influence of Richard D. James runs. On Syro, you’ll hear it in the familiarity of the carefully structured, always entertaining mood-building, but remember: James was one of the first, and arguably the best to put this madness into method. After all, Aphex Twin has been an ongoing project—the main one of the persona-shifting, prolific James—for over twenty years. And while labeling James prolific is a necessity (over thirty records across more than a half-dozen known alter-egos), the sparsity and inconsistency of the release of his music makes a cause for celebration when they do manifest. Earlier this year, one of five copies of a never-released album originally recorded in 1994 under the alias Caustic Window was unearthed, which was purchased on Discogs through crowd-sourcing and distributed digitally. And that wasn’t even an “Aphex Twin” record. Syro assuredly is. It’s as if the album was downloaded straight from James’s hard drive to our ears—song titles like “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]” and “fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]” hint at some semi-secret code to crack. Despite the heaviness of the electronic and production methods at hand, Syro doesn’t feel weighted down by anything; James has simply done it again.