June 21, 2023

Aphex Twin - "Blackbox Life Recorder 21f"

The latest track from Aphex Twin, his first in five years, is a relatively calm affair that offers more of a chill tone than the hyperactive, scrambled concoction many might expect.

For the casual listener, Aphex Twin can be a colossal force of impenetrable music that does more to stress someone out than it does to provide comfort or enjoyment. Perhaps this impression comes from his live performances (although not many people states-side can use that as a valid excuse) which can often be a sensory overload audio/visual assault that's as much of an endurance test as it is a concert (or so I'm told). However, on his first new track in five years and the first off his upcoming EP, Richard D James breaks from expectations and serves up something rather soft, un-intimidating, and reflective. That's not to say that this is a callback to anything, but rather a more matured track that offers a new point of entry to the enigmatic electronic mastermind. Subdued synths give off a rubbery bounce while snares still hit with total crispness, the analog drumming sounding just as radiant now as ever and he shows it off with incredible ease. Surely as the song progresses, the groove gets a bit harder and the density begins to set in, but just when you think we're about to regress to the agitated, bonkers style breakdown Aphex has besieged upon us many times before, he reels things back and you can almost hear a reflexive sigh. He's still firmly in control and serves from the brink at every twist and turn, instead indulging in some of his most tender moments on record. Always a man of mystery, Aphex Twin proves that you'll never quite know what to expect, but can rest assured he's always got a trick up his sleeve.

Black Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 is out July 28.

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