Published Aug 31, 2016One of electronic music's more famous curios has resurfaced. Expert Knob Twiddlers, the one-time collaboration between Aphex Twin and u-Ziq, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, with a fitting reissue on Mike Paradinas's Planet Mu label. Sporting updated fidelity and seven unreleased tracks circa its original release, this version should have just enough new material to draw in even those already familiar with it.
The standard assessment of the album in hindsight — that, although certainly not without merit, it was surprising and odd stylistically — remains valid today, as neither artist made music that sounded quite like this again. The whistling and deranged vocalizing in "Reg," the marimbas in "Jelly Fish," the lurching horn backdrop of "Giant Deflating Football"; all remain pretty singular moments in the work of both artists. They didn't collaborate again either, lending the album legendary status as a one-off anomaly whose weirdness remains undulled.
The new material — two remixes and five new tracks — doesn't disappoint as far as dusty relics go, and provides a further glimpse into the creative process of James and Paradinas in the lead-up to some of their most important work: the Richard D. James Album and Lunatic Harness, respectively, would both be released shortly. As such, these unreleased tracks fit well into the established trajectories of both artists, and will be welcomed by fans eager to fill in their Aphex/u-Ziq oeuvres. Expert Knob Twiddlers remains an interesting detour in the careers of two seminal artists, and there is no better version than this one. (Planet Mu)