Published Sep 08, 2014With anticipation for Syro reaching intense highs, Exclaim! was lucky enough to sit in on a listening party for the long-awaited new Aphex Twin LP. As fans well know, this is Richard D. James' first album in 13 years under the Aphex moniker, finally marking the official follow-up to 2001's Drukqs.
Here's a preview of what to expect when the album descends September 23 courtesy of Warp.
1. "minipops 67 (source field mix)"
This is the only track from the album that has been released so far. It's undeniably Aphex with its beefy rhythmics, disembodied voices and stabs of squelchy acid.
2. "XMAS_EVET10 (thanaton3 mix)"
This one starts off with a spacey vocoder intro that quickly gives way to a tightly swung beat. The rhythmic patterns are tough and the synths are everywhere. A deep acidy bassline rumbles away under the chaos. This one is lengthy, but there's a whole lot to chew on.
3. "produk 29"
Third track in and we have the first and only real curveball. The BPM drops right down into a chunky funk rhythm. Noodling, stringy synths do their thing, but the robust drum work is front and centre as the patterns break down and re-coalesce.
4. "4 bit 9d api+e+6"
The tempo is back up, and this one's a banger. There's a tough beat with some piercing high-hat inflections. Classically exquisite Aphex acid burbles away as some sharper synth elements break through. This one is just a little more coherent.
A 4/4 kick sets the scene for a bit of techno. There's a full-on rave synth line and a set of bursting vintage jungle breaks that roll it along nicely. Undoubtedly the most fun so far, but it all ends too soon.
6. "CIRCLONT6A (syrobonkus mix)"
It's full-on from the start. The noisier glitch side of Aphex is here in spirit, but it's the rave-y moments of clarity and the classic sustained synth pads that keep this one anchored. Despite all that, it's probably the most unhinged so far.
7. "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3"
This is a nice interlude with about five seconds of freaky vocoder followed by 20 seconds of lush melody.
8. "CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)"
After that very brief rest, it's time for another freaky workout. Some of the restrained elements of his AFX work are here, but this piece is more frenetic than any of the Analords. It's tough, booming stuff but the luscious pads and disembodied vocals balance it out wonderfully.
9. "syro u473t8+e (piezoluminescence mix)"
More vocoder work mixes with a stumbling rhythm. It's all rather frenzied, but settles into the wandering 303 line before veering off yet again, getting rough and bitty with some noisier elements. Syro's been intense so far, and this one's no different.
10. "PAPAT4 (pineal mix)"
Not a break, exactly but it's less shamelessly dense. There's space to breathe in the synth-drenched breakdown. The relentless acid-y breaks sprawl across the mix rather than fill it to the brim, and it's one of the highlights so far.
11. "s950tx16wasr10 (earth portal mix)"
The glitch is back but it's the dense kicks that guide the track. Again, there's space to breathe. Staccato snippets of noise interrupt the swift pace, but its the warm synths that steal the show, bringing a touch of melancholy to the penultimate track. It's another highlight.
The melancholic tone continues as Richard D. James bids adieu with one of his exquisite piano pieces. The birds chirping in the background give some unexpected but welcome context. It's a rather charming end to Syro.