[one_half last=”yes”]APHEX TWIN
Label: Warp Records
01. minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix] [aka the manchester track]
02. XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]
03. produk 29 
04. 4 bit 9d api+e+6 [126.26]
05. 180db_ 
06. CIRCLONT6A [141.98][syrobonkus mix]
07. fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]
08. CIRCLONT14 [152.97][shrymoming mix]
09. syro u473t8+e [141.98][piezoluminescence mix]
10. PAPAT4 [pineal mix]
11. s950tx16wasr10 [163.97][earth portal mix]
12. aisatsana 
NBHAP Rating: 4/5
Richard D James, or APHEX TWIN needs no introduction, and will receive none. Google him or quiz his fans, who are realistically most of your friends. This year alone some of them crowdsourced £96,000 for a single copy of a 20 year old, previously unheard LP produced under the name Caustic Window, one of the many monikers installed by the herald electronic patriarch. This was promptly torrented around an anticipatory internet fan base, all of whom were crossing their fingers for more APHEX TWIN material. The subsequent appearance of the AT logo across capital cities on London blimps and New-York sidewalk graffiti anticipated, what was later confirmed to be, Syro – the first official album under the AT moniker since 2001’s Drukqs.
The almost universal support for Richard D James’ work founds an almost deistic sense of a man who’s career spanned a large part of the history of digital music, comfortably straddling the pre-internet period to his current release which involved Twitter treasure hunts and the encrypted Tor browser. Why? To hunt down a track-listing which reads like a tax-receipt and a press-release which is mostly misleading, misspelt APHEX facts and vagina-puns. However, it is this contrast of occasionally confrontational, mostly surreal, always childish humour set against an almost inhuman control and understanding of his musical output that has always made James’ work so fascinating; this is both a god and grandfather of electronica, and simultaneously a hyperactive Cornish man who can’t help himself but continue. Thankfully those conflicting characters are very present in Syro.
Syro is sourced from a familiar sonic palette, as album opener Minipops 67 [source field mix] [aka as the Manchester Track] demonstrates perfectly – the weight and clarity in the rhythmic parts, the swelling are-they-voices-or-are-they-synths referencing Windowlicker period classics, and the humour and challenge James is so well known for being thrown around in familiar vocoder lines. The industrial backdrop of the Come To Daddy period are traded in for a more Eno-esque warmth and flow in the sonics and significantly more focussed production values – something which could easily be conceived of as less experimental. Thankfully the residing playfully sense of the vocal sampling, twisted beats throughout and ruthless chopping of tracks such as syro_u473t8+e_[141.98] indicate that all that has been lost is an early 90’s lo-fi aesthetic, however in the process he’s gained 20 years of practice disguised as play.
As the record slips into 12_aisatsana_, the final ambient track and only perceivably acoustic recording on the album, one is left with an overwhelming melancholy routed in a quite obvious transgression. We can see this record is simultaneously excellent, important, challenging light-hearted yet emotionally loaded and all the things one would expect from another APHEX TWIN record – but we never forget it’s just another APHEX TWIN record; another 60 minutes of 100 hours James’ has recorded and unreleased; an insight into the process of a musician that could care if you listen or not. Thankfully it’s that inherent conflict that will force you to hit repeat like a D-James-like drum-line.
What you expect is what you get. In terms of APHEX TWIN’s comeback LP ‘Syro’ this is actually a good thing as the producer delivers another piece of intelligent and emotionally load electronica.