Aphex Twin - Misunderstood creator or genius of the pastures?

There's no shortage of eulogies for someone who's been a major player in the world of musical creation for the past ten years, one of the great schizophrenics of the music world, namely Sir Richard D. James. And yet, after listening to his 7th album Druqks, something happens, an internal debate is launched.

Here are the splendours with which this artist challenges more and moreof the world, gathering the public and expanding his audience well beyondthose mere fans of electronic music, with his original experimentations,interesting both for their strangeness and, it must be said, their ability to captivate. But where are the limits of our fascination with this evolution? Are we not risking our ability to judge freely when such near-unanimity of opinion surrounds this almost-sacred personality? Since we're dealing here with a music so abstract, so removed from any trend or norm, it is difficult to call upon the standard reference points. Forced, therefore, to take account of the critics and the opinions, we possibly lose our objectivity, our neutrality. Must we then revel in the Aphex Twin's new album?

Torture chamber?

Radicalism, to the point of paroxysm, is the feature of all the tracks, maintaining the tension throughout, despite the presence of numerous ambient interludes. No compromises then, in this intersidereal war where industrial sounds and shattered breakbeats clash with gusts of hardcore jungle. And when the cyclone swerves, it is only to be replaced with an eerie troubling calm. A arduous atmosphere made material through tortured sonic experiments, devoid of any beats, where sharp metallic rip the bottom of the saturated
infra-bass resonance. Welcome to the haunted universe of professor Aphex, more enclosed than ever, where the howls of terrorized women resound. Have we been locked up in a torture chamber? No, we are simply being fed the nightmarish soundtrack of an anguished man. Frozen in this vacuum, we are then more than ready to welcome back the overloaded rhythmic tracks.

<< Where does music end and noise begin? >>


So, the general ambiance is very dark and disquieting, even during those moments when it seems as though the composer was trying to calm our souls with melodic piano pieces. But the very simplicity and sadness with which these passages are infused only highlight the depths of despair of this genius, moulded quite obviously by a profound unease (often the case with geniuses), a genius who has (frankly speaking) this time produced a completely inaccessible piece of work. It is hard to be ecstatic about such a hermetic presence. It is equally difficult to determine the artist's feelings or intentions since - unusually - the majority of the album's tracks fail to touch us this time. Certain tracks, although overworked, smack nonetheless
of a disconcerting poverty. Let us hope, then, that our genius doesn't remain locked up in this personal world too long.

Marginality, yes, but...

So, true neurosis or a deliberate radical reaction to the ubiquitous trendy syrupy down-tempo Lounge deep house and its funky-jazzy-latino variations? Or perhaps both? For it must be said that while electronic music has seen an incredibly speedy democratisation, there has been very little radicalisation (certainly not at the level of the scene's stars, of which Aphex Twin is certainly one). So, whether we're for or against "barred" music, one thing is certain: it is once again the English who are taking the risks. You ask: "yes, but is it necessary to replace lounge and house with noise?" Well, that just rekindles the great debate over contemporary art (concrete music.). Where does music end and noise begin? Is there but one such border?
When all an album does is cause ear-bleed, the "is it necessary?" question will be repeated often. Marginality, yes, but only if it brings us something new, or, in the very least, produce some emotion.

A chilling oeuvre

It is possible that our dear D. James has himself deliberately concocted all this having become weary of a disproportionate and tiresome success. Could the king of vice have indulged his malice to the point of creating a deliberately chilling work that limits the chance of deranged unanimity? Perhaps the underground ultimately wishes to remain underground, now that his past experimentations have almost become the standard, or in any case fashionable.

Written by Luc Demont from Amazon
Translated by R. Marr