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Aphex Twin

Exploring the experimental possibilities inherent in acid and ambience, the two major influences on home-listening techno during the late '80s, Richard D. James' recordings as Aphex Twin brought him more critical praise than any other electronic artist during the 1990s. Though his first major single, "Didgeridoo," was a piece of acid thrash designed to tire dancers during his DJ sets, ambient stylists and critics later took him under their wing for Selected Ambient Works 85-92, a sublime touchstone in the field of ambient techno. James' reaction to the exposure portrayed an artist unwilling to become either pigeonholed or categorizable. His second Aphex Twin album, Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, was so minimal as to be barely conscious -- in what appeared to be an elaborate joke on the electronic community. Follow-ups showed James gradually returning to his hardcore and acid roots, even while his stated desire to crash the British Top Ten (and perform on Top of the Pops) resulted in a series of cartoonish pop songs whose twisted genius was near-masked by their many absurdities. His iconoclastic behavior surprisingly aligned with MTV audiences turned on to end-of-the-millennium nihilist pop along the lines of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.

James began taking apart electronics gear as a teenager growing up in Cornwall, England. (If the title Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is to be believed, it contains recordings made at the age of 14.) Inspired by acid house in the late '80s, James began DJing raves around Cornwall. His first release was the Analogue Bubblebath EP, recorded with Tom Middleton and released on the Mighty Force label in September 1991. Middleton left later that year to form Global Communication, after which James recorded a second volume in the Analogue Bubblebath series. This EP (the first to include "Digeridoo") got some airplay on the London pirate radio station Kiss FM, and prompted Belgium's R&S Records to sign him early the following year. A re-recording of "Digeridoo" made number 55 in the British charts just after its April 1992 release date, and James followed with the Xylem Tube EP in June. He also co-formed (with Grant Wilson-Claridge) his own Rephlex label around that time, releasing a series of singles as Caustic Window during 1992-1993. Available in cruelly limited editions, most of the recordings continued the cold acid precision of "Digeridoo" -- though several expressed humor and fragility barely dreamed of in the hardcore/rave scene to that point.

The climate for "intelligent" techno had begun to warm in the early '90s, though. The Orb had proved the commercial viability of ambient house with their chart-topping "Blue Room" single, and R&S scrambled to find useful material from its own artists. In November 1992, James acquiesced with Selected Ambient Works 85-92, consisting mostly of home material recorded during the past few years. Simply stated, it was a masterpiece of ambient techno, the genre's second work of brilliance after the Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. As his star began to shine, several bands approached him to remix their work, and he complied, with mostly unrecognizable reworkings of tracks by St. Etienne, the Cure, Jesus Jones, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Curve.

Early in 1993, Richard James signed to Warp Records, the influential British label that virtually introduced the concept of futuristic "electronic listening music" with a series of albums (subtitled Artificial Intelligence) by ambient techno pioneers Black Dog, Autechre, B12, and FUSE (aka Richie Hawtin) among others. James' release in the series, titled Surfing on Sine Waves, was recorded as Polygon Window and released in January 1993. The album charted a course between the raw muscle of James' nose-bleed techno and the understated minimalism of Selected Ambient Works. A deal between Warp and TVT gave Surfing on Sine Waves an American release (James' first) by the summer. A second album was released that year, Analogue Bubblebath 3, for Rephlex. Recorded as AFX, the LP renounced any debt to ambient music and was the most bracing work yet in the Aphex Twin canon. On a tour of America with Orbital and Moby later that year, James clung to the headbanging material, to the detriment of his mostly unreplaceable gear. He later cut down on his live performance schedule.

In December of 1993, the new single "On" resulted in James' highest chart placing, a number 32 spot on the British charts. The two-part single included remixes by old pal Tom Middleton (as Reload) and future Rephlex star µ-Ziq. Despite James' appearance on the pop charts, his following album, Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, appeared to be a joke on the ambient techno community. So minimal as to be barely conscious, the quadruple album left most of the beats behind, with only tape loops of unsettling ambient noise remaining. The album mostly struck out with critics but hit number 11 on the British charts and earned James a major-label American contract with Sire soon afterward. During 1994, he worked on the ever-growing Rephlex stable, signing µ-Ziq (Michael Paradinas), Kosmik Kommando (Mike Dred), and Kinesthesia/Cylob (Chris Jeffs) to the label. In August 1994, he released the fourth Analogue Bubblebath, this one a five-track EP.

The year 1995 began with the January release of Classics, a compilation of his early R&S singles. Two months later, James released the single "Ventolin," a harsh, appropriately wheezing ode to the asthma drug on which he relied. I Care Because You Do followed in April, pairing his hardcore experimentalism with more symphonic ambient material, aligned with the work of many post-classical composers -- including Philip Glass, who arranged an orchestral version of the album's "Icct Hedral" on the August 1995 single Donkey Rhubarb.

Later that year, the Hangable Auto Bulb EP replaced Analogue Bubblebath 3 as Aphex Twin's most brutal, uncompromising release -- a fusion of experimental music and jungle being explored at the same time on releases by Plug and Squarepusher. In July 1996, Rephlex released the long-awaited collaboration between Richard James and Michael Paradinas (µ-Ziq). The album, Expert Knob Twiddlers (credited to Mike & Rich), watered down the experimentalism of Aphex Twin with µ-Ziq's easy-listening electro-funk. The fourth proper Aphex Twin album, November 1996's Richard D. James Album, continued his forays into acid-jungle and experimental music. Retaining the experimental edge, but with a stated wish to make the British pop charts, James' next two releases, 1997's Come to Daddy EP and 1999's Windowlicker EP, were acid storms of industrial drum'n'bass. The accompanying videos, both directed by Chris Cunningham, featured the bodies of small children and female models (respectively) dancing around, all with special-effects-created Aphex Twin faces grinning maniacally.

James released nothing during the year 2000, but did record the score to Flex, a Chris Cunningham short film exhibited as part of the Apocalypse exhibition at London's Royal Academy. With very little advance warning, another LP, Drukqs, finally arrived in late 2001. Although James continued making frequent DJ appearances, he released no more material until 2005, when Rephlex issued the first installment in a lengthy, 11-part series of 12" singles titled Analord. The singles' minimalist acid techno harked back to his Caustic Window/Analogue Bubblebath material of the early '90s. Chosen Lords, a CD compilation of some of the Analord material, appeared in April 2006. James continued to DJ and play live, and in 2009 the Rushup Edge LP appeared under the performer name of the Tuss; although James and Rephlex denied that it was his work, rumors persisted that it was yet another Aphex pseudonym. Additional rumors during the late 2000s promised official releases from James, but they proved unfounded. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Windowlicker

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Track List: Hy A Scullyas Lyf A Dhagrow (Single)

Comments

What happened to Richard James? Reading that bio brought back a lot of memories. So way head of his time!
Aphex is and has always been way beyond their time I am absolutely in love with every track ... 0059p666 711
you think aphex twin is good, you should check out my band Victorian-ag e d Sperm.
It relaxes me and helps me think more. especially when I need it.
To believe this was being done in the 80's that's so f**king mind blowing. I mean, just look at the other styles of music that was going on at that time, this had no comparison, it was the future of music, nowadays, it's every electronica involved musician's inspiration
To believe this was being done in the 80's that's so f**king mind blowing, I mean, just look at the other styles of music that was going on at that time, this had no comparison, it was the future of music, nowadays, it's every electronica involved musician's inspiration.
0_0
Come to daddy!
@_@
love.
Love
Haunting beauty...A Twin is the cornerstone of perhaps 10 Pandora stations. Awesome, keep up the good work.
claricentp91 7
Interested on making some extra cash? go to BLUDOS.COM You can make $300+ a week easily. Its free so no scam here.
shawnnavuz71 1
Interested on making some extra cash? go to BLUDOS.COM You can make $300+ a week easily. Its free so no scam here.
forumtek
This is fantastic art!
Definitely an excellent artist, I love all his albums.
finnsdad1
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
Patience. It's obviously worth the wait. All of that empty space between the years has got to create some spark.
jabbathehutt 8 6 7 5 4
yo he didnt do the Pi soundtrack that was Clint Mansell
windlekegan
When is the next Aphex Twin album coming out?!!
Where oh where is "Hearts of Space "?? I do not think Beethoven is worried :-) . Maybe Alan Hovannhes?
This is and forever will be the best album ever for all time throughout history nobody will ever match the genius that spawned it. This tops Beethoven.
So RDJames publishes under The Tuss now, eh? I'll give it a listen, but I was under the sad impression that he turned up his nose when the rest of the world caught up with his genius.
This freaked me out . This isnt fake . Apparentlu, if you copy and paste this on ten comments in the next ten minutes you will either get kissed or asked out if you break the chain you will see a little dead girl in your room tonight. In the next 53 minutes somone will say I love you or I'm sorry
A Twin is the cornerstone of perhaps 10 Pandora stations..ha u n t i n g beauty.
The Rubber Johnny video is insane.I made my sister watch it and it freaked her out.Very impressive work.
Oh and he did the soundtrack for the movie PI. Wasn't mentioned in the Bio.
Chris Carter is a genius. So is Aphex Twin!
I have robot ears
More music I astro project to, in so calledBODERL I N E s t a t e ( b e t w e e n dreamsandWAK E F U L L N E S S . p e a c e
His Rubber Johnny video is CRAZY! Everyone involved with that had to have been on a coke binge!
I remember back in the early 90s watching MTV..when they actually played videos and heard ..."Come to Daddy"...it blew my mind and changed me for life..;) Music used to be so in your face..loved it and still do!
Richard James makes Intelligent Techno : Aphex Twin hear them all!
Serious house music going on here!
hailbut acid
volcomstoner 0 1 6
Come to Daddy is awesome creepy. First music video I had watched from Aphex Twin and totally felt like he wanted my soul.
Come To Daddy is creepy! Try watching Rubber Johnny
Come To Daddy is one of THE creepiest videos ever! Go check it out on YouTube and tell me I'm exaggerating ! LOL
Say what you will about Aphex Twin's music, but you cannot deny that his album covers are anything less than spectacular.
best experimental electronic artist ever!
Simply amazing, the style of this music is smooth.
timeless. Shaped my life by weeding out s**tty music. Punk Electronic. Middle finger to everyone. That's how you last forever. Thank you Richard D. James.
I want your soul. Best line ever!
Unmatched quality, and aging extremely well.
selected ambient works2 it reminds me of listening to elevator music on an alien planet with three days sleep deprivation
I picked up the windowlicker vhs video from my favorite music store in anchorage way back in 99.. badass.
Not sure if it was my state of mind when I listened to it...( :p ) or if it was meant to be listened to in that way, but I used to throw both disks on at the same time and it seems to match up pretty well! Give it a go... one will generally have the beats while the other will be mostly spacey fun.
I used to listen to selected ambient works 2 while riding my bike to work. The disc was scratched and it would skip like crazy, but I was OK with that, just another remix...neve r the same twice :-) Great artist!
ronfswanson
@grayxk That was funny. Who cares about brian eno. He is a great artist, but then again didn't he work with U2?
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