APHEX TWIN: COME TO DADDY (1997)
1) Come To Daddy, Pappy Mix; 2) Flim; 3) Come To Daddy, Little Lord Fauntleroy Mix; 4) Bucephalus Bouncing Ball; 5) To Cure A Weakling Child, Contour Regard; 6) Funny Little Man; 7) Come To Daddy, Mummy Mix; 8) IZ-US.
This would be a fine place to mention that, in addition to his relatively small number of long-playing records, Richard D. James has had immense streaks of EPs and singles released over the past twenty years, describing all of which individually would take forever — yet it would not always be a waste of time, since much of the man's tastiest meat is to be found on these petty pieces of product. All I can say in general is that they are generally worth checking out, and, as an exception, say a few words about one of his lengthiest EPs: Come To Daddy runs over thirty minutes and, therefore, almost qualifies as a full album (actually, Richard D. James Album only exceeded it by about five minutes, completely blurring the distinction between album types — which, come to think of it, is only natural considering that these days they all come on the same pieces of plastic with the same diameter).
Come To Daddy is likely to qualify as Aphex Twin's eclectic peak; with a little bit of everything and more contained inside, I might even recommend it as a most useful introduction to the character in general. If you want to see where exactly one talented artist stands on beauty, evil, fun, absurdism, and musical geometry, each single track on this release will answer at least one of these questions, and sometimes more. Plus, together with Album, this is the finest proof available of the idea that Richard D. James is not merely making music with electronic equipment; he has, in fact, become one undetachable whole with his electronic equipment — much like for Jimi Hendrix it could be seen that the guitar was just another, extremely vital, organ of his body, here it seems that sounds like these could only have come from an operative cyborg.
'Come To Daddy (Pappy Mix)' is the most famous number here, mostly due to the promo video, from which the world got tricked into thinking that Richard D. James is, in fact, a mutant hell-raising demon born out of an old TV set inseminated with dog pee. Musically, however, the track is one of the simplest and least interesting numbers on the EP, a jarring industrial techno parody on all sorts of «evil music», from Ministry to Prodigy to death metal, that is rather one-dimensional, unless you want to throw on some points for the mock-creepy «demon vocal» overdubs of "Come to Daddy, come to Daddy!" and "I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL!"
But the big general plus of the EP is that it is intended to be more than a sum of its parts, and the hyperbolic evil of 'Pappy Mix' does not reach its full effect until, one track later, you reach the 'Little Lord Faulteroy Mix', whose only common link with the 'Pappy Mix' is the main title — in all other respects, it is an entirely different experience, with underwaterish chimes and little green man vocals taking the place of metallic grind and Lucifer roar. And then, still later, there is the 'Mummy Mix', which is even less similar — mostly percussion-driven with a few ambient tones in the background and next to no vocals at all (just a little high-pitched screaming).
Why are they all 'Come To Daddy'? Probably just to reflect the man's provocative spirit. The unsettling titles, the evil grin staring out of the dog-pee-stained TV set in the video, the unusually high percentage of warped vocal overdubs, all of this has the stamp of the «man-machine» over it, as if all these long years of tampering with the spirit armies of chips and transistors finally did transform the man into the «Analord», as he would, in a few years, start christening a whole series of his new records. Scary — but certainly exciting.
Tucked inside the three «mixes» are lesser known tracks that are, however, no less deserving. 'Flim' represents one of his most pleasant minimalistic melodies, a rhytmic melange of almost jazzy synth patterns, completely devoid of any ironic aspects. 'Bucephalus Bouncing Ball' starts out as a crazy, superhuman break-dance track before completely chucking rhythm out the window and concentrating instead on tracing the virtual trajectory of a virtual set of bouncing balls: imagine a bunch of Olympic gods setting up a pinball championship and you'll end up somewhere in the vicinity (I cannot even begin to imagine the work it took to program all that). And 'Funny Little Man', the more I listen to it, the more it comes across as some gruesomely politically incorrect musical joke, which is fabulous, because who the heck wants to see a world stripped of the art of intelligent provocation?
Where Come To Daddy can seem a step below the Richard D. James Album is in the «melody» department — without any strings arrangements or Beach Boys influences, but with bouncing balls and goofy vocal tricks, it is more about «sonics» as a whole than about traditionally valued note sequences. But the inclusion of tracks like 'Flim' clearly shows that, like every talented electronica / avantgarde composer, James simply views «traditionally valued note sequences» as but one of the important ways to realize his maniacal sonic drive, and the good news is, he is fully capable of realizing it in ways that are complex, exciting, and impressionistic, which sets him apart from armies of poseurs. If nothing else, Come To Daddy is simply one of those magnificent treatments for the tympanic membrane that builds up one's sense of perception, general experience, and, well, character. Thumbs up.
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