Aphex Twin Syro

Aphex TwinSyro
With a discography as idiosyncratic as Richard D. James', it's hard to know exactly what to expect from a new album. The latest Aphex Twin offering feels very familiar; every track on Syro has an even measure of something notably Aphex. At no point does the album come close to the dizzying complexity or scorching speed of Drukqs, as James opts instead for an uncharacteristically smooth affair. Even the heart-wrenching melodic emotion that often burns through his work is muted and spread across Syro's fleeting moments and hidden corners.

This is not to say that Aphex Twin has abandoned his playful side; rather, it seems he has trimmed the fat and lined it up in a neat row. James' compositions have always sounded considered, and Syro is undoubtedly a considered album, but it's never cloyingly self-conscious. On Syro, he is willing to let his acid burbles and exquisite melodies chug along subtly. There is craftsmanship here, but its genius lies in letting the raw quality of his sound speak first rather than arranging it into something new. (Warp)