Aphex Twin - Collapse

80

Drowned In Sound

What is there left to say about Richard D James, more famously known as Aphex Twin? Frankly, it's a gift that we're still getting new music from the man, myth and legend at all, given the decade-long hiatus he took from releasing new music not so long ago. But where his comeback full-length Syro was an unmitigated success, his last EP Cheetah received a mixed reception, showing that even those as talented as James don't and shouldn't always get an easy ride based on their past importance.



Collapse, announced a couple months ago via a series of posters that appeared overnight in London, Turin, LA, NYC and Tokyo, however, sees a back to basics approach - as much as that term can ever apply to James - where he has returned to the masterful atmospheric electro we are all used to him producing. Though billed as an EP, the five tracks here clock in at just under half-an-hour of the kind of sounds that are created specifically for one to burrow themselves into and navigate around the labyrinth tunnels James has sonically sculpted. The expected instant reaction to hearing Collapse should really to just put it on again, and again, and again etc.

Opener 'T69 collapse' has also been featured in a stunning animated video which goes some way to displaying this record's artwork concept and promotional campaign (rendering and reimagining landscapes, be they urban or rural), but it is yet another worthy single in a canon of them Aphex has amassed. '1st 44' keeps the pace, though its background harpsichord reminds one of Björk's 'All is Full of Love', while the counterpointed synths is a return to James's legendary Selected Ambient Works.

'MT1 t29r2' is by far the hardest hitting of the EP, sitting directly in the middle of the record, though it is, thankfully, broken up by some brief moments of levity to prevent it from becoming amongst James' toughest work to stomach. 'abundance...' is centred around one of James' classic tropes, creepy voice recordings of English children, reminiscent especially of his classic full-length Richard D. James Album. But even beyond that, this is the most satisfying song on the record as James pulls off his myriad tricks and once again somehow manages to pull everything off in sequence, like a master gymnast or figure skater.

Finale 'pthex' initially at least calms things down for a while, with the lowest-key, deepest-bass inflexion. The final track displays once again that within all the madness, James still has an incredible range and ability to create different moods all within keeping of his highly idiosyncratic style. While Collapse won't go down as one of James's landmark Aphex Twin releases, however, its consistency and striving ambition to keep moving the project forward, both as a familiar, welcome friend but one that challenges you incessantly is highly appreciated. One waits with bated breath on James' next full-length release, should he choose to make one.

![105826](http://dis.resized.images.s3.amazonaws.com/540x310/105826.jpeg)

Fri Sep 14 18:48:08 CEST 2018

70

Tiny Mix Tapes

Aphex Twin
Collapse

[Warp; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Richard D. James is so cagey about his public presence that his fame seems to border on the unilateral. He can go 13 years without releasing a proper album, anonymously drop hundreds of unreleased tracks onto Soundcloud, and plant portentous Aphex Twin logos on edifices around the globe, all while operating more or less sub rosa. From there, his fans take these elusive “publicity” tactics and bring them to the attention of the world at large. James seems to cultivate himself as the ascetic studio craftsman, wishing only to toil away in obscurity but for his ravenous fans who shine the spotlight on him time and again.

By virtue of their ceaseless fervor and intuitive sleuthing, Aphex Twin constituents have willed Richard D. James into the enigmatic lodestar of electronic music that he’s known as today. So on Collapse, his latest EP under the Aphex name, there’s a certain antipathy and cynicism present, a kind of misanthropy that could be found in a hermit who revels in mystery and only offers fleeting, furtive indications of his existence. In typical Aphex Twin fashion, the percussion is busy and disorienting, yet his synthesizers suggest more of a malaise. On “1st 44,” the keyboards sound lethargic over the intricate, fussy rhythms. On “abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909],” they feel nebulous and errant, as the song meanders with uncertainty before finally disappearing into an ether of hazy synth sounds. Nervousness and disaffection are evoked continuously on the EP, and James channels them with a masterful sense of conflict between man and machine.

Collapse strives to alienate. The few human voices present on the record feel warped and unnatural; the child’s murmur on “MT1 t29r2” sounds monotone and unnervingly distant under the rest of the song’s production. “Give me your hand, my friend, and I will lead you to the land of abundance, joy, and happiness,” a woman assures us, with a suspicious amount of placidity, on “abundance10.” And while this soundbite is buried under sonic dust and other detritus, James proceeds to chop and screw it as the song progresses until the words “joy” and “happiness” are reduced to abstractions, more ominous than comforting. The overall effect is a bit trite, but it’s the captivating instrumentation here that redeems the track.

While James is here less austere than on Cheetah EP and less eccentric than on landmark release Richard D. James Album, Collapse nevertheless proves to be a serviceable Aphex Twin release at this point in his career. His knack for finding interesting textures and layers hasn’t been compromised nor has his willingness to build off of previous styles in his oeuvre. Collapse is a step away from James’s forays into ambient and jungle of the past, but the Aphex Twin identity still shines through in his inimitable take on IDM. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fri Sep 14 06:25:14 CEST 2018

70

Tiny Mix Tapes

Aphex Twin
Collapse

[Warp; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Richard D. James is so cagey about his public presence that his fame seems to border on the unilateral. He can go 13 years without releasing a proper album, anonymously drop hundreds of unreleased tracks onto Soundcloud, and plant portentous Aphex Twin logos on edifices around the globe, all while operating more or less sub rosa. From there, his fans take these elusive “publicity” tactics and bring them to the attention of the world at large. James seems to cultivate himself as the ascetic studio craftsman, wishing only to toil away in obscurity but for his ravenous fans who shine the spotlight on him time and again.

By virtue of their ceaseless fervor and intuitive sleuthing, Aphex Twin constituents have willed Richard D. James into the enigmatic lodestar of electronic music that he’s known as today. So on Collapse, his latest EP under the Aphex name, there’s a certain antipathy and cynicism present, a kind of misanthropy that could be found in a hermit who revels in mystery and only offers fleeting, furtive indications of his existence. In typical Aphex Twin fashion, the percussion is busy and disorienting, yet his synthesizers suggest more of a malaise. On “1st 44,” the keyboards sound lethargic over the intricate, fussy rhythms. On “abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909],” they feel nebulous and errant, as the song meanders with uncertainty before finally disappearing into an ether of hazy synth sounds. Nervousness and disaffection are evoked continuously on the EP, and James channels them with a masterful sense of conflict between man and machine.

Collapse strives to alienate. The few human voices present on the record feel warped and unnatural; the child’s murmur on “MT1 t29r2” sounds monotone and unnervingly distant under the rest of the song’s production. “Give me your hand, my friend, and I will lead you to the land of abundance, joy, and happiness,” a woman assures us, with a suspicious amount of placidity, on “abundance10.” And while this soundbite is buried under sonic dust and other detritus, James proceeds to chop and screw it as the song progresses until the words “joy” and “happiness” are reduced to abstractions, more ominous than comforting. The overall effect is a bit trite, but it’s the captivating instrumentation here that redeems the track.

While James is here less austere than on Cheetah EP and less eccentric than on landmark release Richard D. James Album, Collapse nevertheless proves to be a serviceable Aphex Twin release at this point in his career. His knack for finding interesting textures and layers hasn’t been compromised nor has his willingness to build off of previous styles in his oeuvre. Collapse is a step away from James’s forays into ambient and jungle of the past, but the Aphex Twin identity still shines through in his inimitable take on IDM. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fri Sep 14 06:25:14 CEST 2018