Aphex Twin > 'Syro' > Listening Party: The Laundry, London E8, 5.09.2014 @ 21.00h
There’s been nothing since 2001’s Drkqs. Of course there hasn’t been complete radio-silence from Richard D James (better known as the Aphex Twin – but also known as AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Brian Tregaskin, Caustic Window, The, Smojphace, GAK, Karen Tregaskin, Patrick Tregaskin, Martin Tressider, PBoD, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Q-Chastic, Dice Man, The Tuss and Soit-P.P) – he’s been as busy as his aliases suggest. He’s performed sets at music festivals, played with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood in a tribute to avant-garde Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, as well as releasing 62 tracks (more than four and a half hours’ worth of music) via the Analord project in 2005 and ten tracks (an EP and a mini LP) under the pseudonym The Tuss in 2007.
This is all a long way from 1991’s release of ‘Analogue Bubblebath‘ on Devon’s Mighty Force record label.
The past, though, is not why we’re here. As usual, we’re here for the future.
On 16 August this year, a green blimp was sighted hovering above London – on its side was the Aphex Twin logo and “2014“.
This was followed by the posting of a photo on Twitter of the Aphex Twin logo sprayed on the pavement outside New York’s Radio City Music Hall; two days later the Aphex Twin Twitter account posted a link via the deep web browser, Tor, which led to the title and tracklist of an upcoming album release, called ‘Syro‘.
Now we’re in the future, and you know why? Because it’s fun. Artists like Richard James understand the possibilities and limitations of the modern world, James has an unerring instinct for the playfulness of the 21st Century. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the seemingly random numbers next to each track listed refer to the BPM – and the crazed random glory of the track titles: ‘4 bit 9d api+e+6′; ‘minipops 67 (source field mix) (aka the manchester track)’; ‘fz pseudotimestrech+e+3’.
Make work more fun than fun – that appears to be Richard James’s mantra.
Then the invitation appears on the ‘net – to a ‘Listening Opportunity‘. What more prosaically, back in the days of vinyl LPs, and sumptuous record company banquets, used to be called a playback; when hand-picked music hacks would be wined and canapéd in return for favourable column inches. Those days are long gone. There is no print media to waste the dollar on, there is no point in trying to seduce the entire ‘net. So, what to do? Fall back on the oldest trick in the book – the word of mouth. A opportunity to hear ‘Syro‘ in its entirety almost a month before its release date, with just one track released into cyberspace – ‘minipops 67 (source field mix) (aka the manchester track)’ (listen here).
And let the tongues do the wagging.
From London to Utrecht hundreds, maybe thousands of people will hear electronic music that is so gorgeously organic, so sublimely thoughtful, so joyously danceable, so atmospheric that they won’t be able to help themselves but to spread the word. ‘Syro‘ is a juggernaut of sound that makes like time has stood still, while accelerating all the while. These are bendy tunes, mutated samples, and forgotten beats that tell tales of life in the fast lane of the autostrada, or a never-ending autobahn.
But how do you know when ‘Syro‘ started in The Laundry in London Fields?
The lights of the past-future-past-future. Ballardian ferocity for the old-school ravers who are taking drugs in the ‘LADIES ONLY TOILET’; for the man comatose on the leatherette Chesterfield-sofa in the corner of this concrete bunker; for the suit bobbing his head, in a post-work daze; for the writer who’s photographing a wall.
“Excuse me, what are you writing?”
“Because I’m a writer.”
A huge rumble of bass, drums, musical mayhem.
“Let’s get involved!” The architect says to the art student as they throw themselves into the frenzy. The complex groove takes the crowd to the end of the album; to the plaintive, plangent noodle that is the minimalist ‘aisatsana‘.
This is the return of the ‘braindance‘ – the computer heir to Stockhausen, Cage, and Kraftwerk.
London & Paris have had their chance to listen …
Be there or – as they used to say in olden times – be square.