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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aphex Twin: ...I Care Because You Do


1) Acrid Avid Jam Shred; 2) The Waxen Pith; 3) Wax The Nip; 4) Icct Hedral (edit); 5) Ventolin (video version); 6) Come On You Slags!; 7) Start As You Mean To Go On; 8) Wet Tip Hen Ax; 9) Mookid; 10) Alberto Balsalm; 11) Cow Cud Is A Twin; 12) Next Heap With.

I don't really know if I care, but even I can tell that Richard D. James' third full album feels like the man is finally bre­a­king through the sea of conventions, and trying to take the world of elec­tronic music some place it has rarely, if ever, seen before. This is no longer music you should, or, in fact, could dance to, nor does it humbly follow the well-established standards of the ambient genre. This is where the Aphex starts to reach the apex.

Most of the rhythm loops are complex here, ranging from funky trip-hop beats to fairly extreme avantgarde patterns; and on almost every track, the «percussion» sounds different, reflecting Ri­chard's obsessed love for the phenomenon of sound per se. But the main purpose of this comple­xity still seems technical, aimed at disorienting the crowds looking for dance fodder and provi­ding an intelligent background for the music, which is no longer fully «backgroundish», but rather just formally minimalist.

At the arguable exception of 'Ventolin', a track destined strictly for the strong of hearing (with its ultra-sonic shrill beeping frequency, the tune is rendered well near unlistenable), ...I Care is very «normal», an album that might even endear the artist to the art-rock crowd. With a little effort, you can even separate the tunes into «rockers» and «ballads», choosing your favourites and skip­ping the «filler». On some tracks, keyboards are being augmented by (real?) orchestration; on others, they are made to sound like medieval church music; and occasionally, they even play the­mes that show melodic development, rendering it impossible to treat the compositions like we are supposed to treat ambient (i. e. every given snippet of the track is the equivalent of the whole).

If you are a fan of the «disturbing» aspect of electronic music — creepy underworldly sounds with a claim to predicting the apocalypse — I recommend 'Icct Hedral' ('ICCt' is short for either International Catamaran Challenge Trophy or International Criminal Court, whichever you pre­fer, but the music does not remind me much of catamarans) and particularly the last track, 'Next Heap With...', where James' cloudy synths are periodically torn apart by orchestral strings and horns that at once seem to announce some sort of new day dawning and make you, the listener, afraid to face it. If, however, you prefer just to be becalmed, 'Alberto Balsalm' is one of the Twin's most touching minimalist melodies, and deserves full imersion.

To summarize, it's almost as if ...I Care were a synthesis of the energy of Ambient Works I with the calm of Ambient Works II — two opposites working against each other and somehow fus­ing into something with a non-zero charge all the same. Not all such mixes work, but this one seems to have succeeded; at the very least, it is an individualistic and uniquely imaginative piece of sh... uh, work of art. Obviously, it would be insulting on the part of the brain to refrain from issuing it a thumbs up — the whole thing is almost scientifically targeted at hitting each of its individual neurons, ra­ther than some collective abstract «rational conscience».

Check "I Care Because You Do" (CD) on Amazon
Check "I Care Because You Do" (MP3) on Amazon

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