By Jason Herring, October 2 2014 —
Aphex Twin — the pseudonym of electronic musician Richard D. James — has been on hiatus for the past 13 years. Luckily for his fans, his new record, Syro, was released Sept. 22. And the wait proves to be worthwhile, as the album incorporates countless ideas and styles in its 12 tracks.
James refuses to settle into a single idea or pattern on the album. The first song, “minipops 67 [120.2],” showcases a hyperactive tendency with no beat staying consistent for more than a few measures. Despite the jagged flow, the song never ceases to be catchy and endlessly danceable.
Other highlights have their own distinct feeling. “XMAS_EVET10 ” is uncharacteristic of the artist, building upon a simple beat to create a beautifully textured song. “Aisatsana ” is a haunting ambient piece that evokes imagery of a post-apocalyptic wasteland as the album closes.
One problem with Syro is that many songs fail to distinguish themselves. The stylistic choice James made when titling the songs doesn’t help here, as it can be hard to remember or reference a specific song on the record. Even so, the songs remain immersive and listening to them never becomes a chore.
With Syro, Aphex Twin proves why he’s revered in the electronic music community and this mesmerizing album is a beautiful demonstration of his mastery over the genre.