An artist as influential as he is dedicated, elusive electronic legend Richard D. James has released a new EP, Collapse, under his most popular alias, Aphex Twin, and it’s got something for everyone.
Fans of the softer Aphex Twin will enjoy the ambient chord progressions and pillowy synths, and fans of his wilder mutations will love the unpredictable drum patterns and noisy samples. The sonic textures harken back to the Selected Ambient Works days, but they have a satisfyingly modern punch that comes with 2018 technology. This combination of old and new on this EP makes for a very intriguing yet accessible listen.
There are hints of traditional pop structuring, and the drums even take on a trap flair at times, but the songs, most of which are at least six minutes in length, move cleanly through multiple phases, splicing calmer rhythmic passages and familiar melodies with jittering electronic exercises in rapid fire succession. The way instruments come and go is so subtle and so smooth, that you might forget what song you’re on if you zone out for even a few seconds.
It’s the drums that truly make this project; they move around in your ears like dancing percussions in the closed eyes of a madman. It’s a perfect fit for the synth work, which usually keeps a solid melody, albeit an often strange, abrasive and borderline atonal one. The vocals samples add character to the album, making the atmospheres that RDJ creates much more engaging.
None of this is surprising, of course. RDJ rarely falls off his game under the Aphex Twin alias, and the Collapse EP is no exception. Decades after his debut, Aphex Twin continues to produce stellar works, front to back, even when they’re just 30 minutes long.