Compuserve articleAphex Twin is the alter ego of one Richard James, a reclusive twenty-two year-old Englishman who utilizes home-brewed electronic instruments and common household objects to create music that soars with its own alien logic. In the process, he's managed to singlehandedly redraw entire continents on the musical map, pushing the sound of techno off the dance floor and into your brain.
Selected Ambient Works Volume II contains more than two hours of music (on two CDs housed in a brilliant box) culled from his most recent sessions. It's decidedly quieter than previous import releases, but no less visionary.
More propulsive is the just-released CD maxi-single containing the new single "On"—a hypnotic spiral of sound that comes on like Kraftwerk being mercilessly shredded in a particle accelerator. It's not on the album, so don't say we didn't warn you up front, okay?
Richard is on the cover of Option magazine as we write this, and he's already been the recipient of a solid year's worth of out-and-out raves (no pun intended) from the British press.
Aphex Twin has recently wrapped up a U.S. tour with Moby and Orbital. He'll be performing in the States again shortly, probably accompanied by some other British ambient types.
In the past few years, Richard's output has been nothing short of voluminous. He's released records under the names Polygon Window and The Dice Man, as well as remixes for Curve, St. Etienne and others.
"Aphex Twin you already know. Or at least you should—he's been described as the hottest bleepmaster on the block and been dubbed 'The One-Man Kraftwerk'...a mercurial whiz kid..."
- Stephen Sweet, Melody Maker
"Although his music shares Techno's inorganic textures and programmed beats, the level at which Richard James is operating is altogether loftier; I don't hesitate to call it 'electronic composition.' When it comes to imbuing machine music with spirituality, Aphex Twin is there with Eno and Kraftwerk."
- Simon Reynolds, New Music Express
"The Aphex Twin is the boy genius of Techno—a compulsively creative Nintendo-playing insomniac from Cornwall who builds his own electronic instruments and has been recording under a multitude of pseudonyms since the age of 14. Is he a superhero or an obsessive or what?"
- Kodwo Eshun, I.D.
If the above sampling of critical raves leaves you a bit confused, you're allowed. After all, shape-shifting and unanchored identity are all part of the intriguing persona of the multi-faceted musician, inventor and techno-pioneer who goes, these days, by the name Aphex Twin.
The Twin, in this case, is one Richard James, a young man with a multitude of talents and a gallery full of guises. The extraordinary music he writes, records, produces and performs has been released under a number of different names, ranging from AFX to Metapharstic to Caustic Window to Polygon Window. This Cornwall, England native, now based in London, seems to take a perverse delight in multiple personalities, each one a new incarnation of his musical imagination.
Now, savvy stateside audiences are about to be dazzled by the same protean energy that has made Richard James one of the hottest cutting edge artists in the UK. Working under his currently favored rubric of Aphex Twin, James has just released his debut Sire/Warp Records album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II along with his first U.S. single and runaway U.K. Chart hit, "On."
With a sound as evocative, mercurial and adventurous as its creator, Selected Ambient Works Volume II is the latest chapter in a life dedicated to pure sound.
That dedication began at the tender age of 12, when the precocious youngster first delved into the insides of an old piano and came up with a customized instrument. Other one-of-a-kind musical inventions followed, as did the first tentative forays into the recording studio. With no musical or electronic training, James was single-handedly pushing the expressive potentials of electric music.
As a teenager, he relocated to the thriving London music scene and began to make a name for himself as a performer whose facility with sound turned his concerts into singular, sense-expanding events.
It was in 1991 that James began releasing a string of acclaimed singles, EPs and albums, initially under the Mighty Force Records label. Early recordings included 1991's Analogue Bubblebath, which he released in versions by both Aphex Twin and AFX. The following year yielded a major U.K. club hit, "Digeridoo," on the Belgium techno label, R&S.
By the summer of 1992, he had recorded Joyrex J4 EP and its follow-up, Joyrex J5 EP, under the name Caustic Window, on his own record label, Rephlex. Year's end saw James in his Aphex Twin mode on his first full-length album, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, on the above mentioned R&S label.
Signed to the feisty independent label Warp Records, James next transformed himself into Polygon Window for the album Surfing On Sine Waves (January 1993). The follow-up, Quoth featured sounds captured from James' day job digging tunnels and was given the distinction of being released and deleted on the same day, making it an instant collector's item. He returned to his Aphex Twin persona for the Phlegm EP, after which he embarked on a first-ever U.S. tour, appearing in a series of well-received club dates coast to coast.
In the meantime, James garnered a reputation as a top-notch remixer, handling sides by such artists and groups as Curve, Jesus Jones, St. Etienne, PCP, Meat Beat Manifesto and others.
Signed to Sire Records in mid-1993, James set about assembling the aural elements for his new album. The result is Selected Ambient Works Volume II, a collection of original compositions revealing a sound that is as hard to pin down as its creator is. Richard James is Aphex Twin. And Aphex Twin is the next step in modern music's evolution.
Written by: Unknown source from Compuserve