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LABEL: Warp Records RELEASE DATE: October 16, 1997 GENRE: IDM, Experimental
// review by Jeff

Richard D. James delivers another hard-hitting yet calming session.

There are very few thinkers like the British IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) master Aphex Twin, also known as Richard D. James. He continues to break the barriers of traditional music with his grinding drum splices and melodic undercoatings. And with this 8-track release from 1997, he continues to amaze his fans with admirable style. "Come To Daddy", which was a single with an utterly ethereal music video to accompany its dark underbelly, has not been featured on any major Aphex Twin album, and therefore it feels like a separate release all on its own. However, the fifth track "To Cure A Weakling Child (Contour Regard)", was featured (although in a shorter form) on his 1996 album "Richard D. James Album".

The package begins with Come To Daddy (Pappy Mix), perhaps the track the most familiar to Aphex Twin fans (and non-fans alike), as this version was featured in the music video. It is certainly not the type of track you want to play particularly loudly in the presence of contented company; it may cause them to believe you are praying to daemons! With its heavily fuzzed but still powerful use of an electric guitar synth, and hard-hitting non-sequential beats (as is the style of Aphex Twin's drum patterns, if you can call them patterns), "Come To Daddy" is a force not to be reckoned with! Yet perhaps the most devious element is the distorted vocals of Richard James himself telling us that he wants our soul and that he will eat it, followed by a tormenting request that we "come to Daddy" in various pitches...and "the scream", an equalizer-shattering scream, that's what it is. The scream is beyond eerie yet you do not dare avoid it! Honestly, this is why Aphex Twin fans love his work -- he dares to be different and this mix alone is proof that he is willing to constantly dive deeper for inspiration that most other artists. This is a loud track with a strongly metallic feeling to it, but should be listened to with caution, for it frightens the children!

Flim is a surprisingly laidback track, and shows the great contrast between his gritty tracks and his ambient producing abilities. Clocking in at just under three minutes, "Flim" uses basic poppy synths and a nice solid but unpredictable set of beats to deliver a trancey, chill-out type of song. This track shows that while James' mind can be mind-blowingly mad at times, he also has the ability to produce softer, more angelic music while still retaining his own personal style.

Just as our nice little relaxation period comes to an end, another mix of "Come To Daddy" arrives. The Little Lord Faulteroy Mix (still done by Aphex Twin) is the antithesis to the Pappy Mix; you'd never know that the tracks were even related in any way. Using a minimalist and spacey sound, James alters his voice yet again in several different pitches, all delivering separate messages. If it weren't for the unusual voice work, this would be a very bland track and would need to be skipped. Judge for yourself.

Yet the next track is NOT one to avoid: Bucephalus Bouncing Ball is another indication as to why Aphex Twin is held in such high regard. There is no defined pattern to this track (a trademark of this genre), but it is a very steady track containing many metallic percussions, a swooning pad, a soft main synth, and a thin bassline (although the percussion element is the main focus here). And it is around the 3:03 mark that the title exposes its meaning: it sounds as though he is playing pinball with his own beats! An absolutely astounding array of simulated ball-bouncing with kicks and other beat elements gradually morph into a deluge of "bouncing" beats that will overflow your ears with exuberant thrills. I am VERY impressed at the craftsmanship of this effect. "Bucephalus Bouncing Ball" is another one of Aphex Twin's triumphs, and certainly a song that should be in every fan's collection.

To Cure A Weakling Child (Contour Regard) is also a relatively ambient piece (it's interesting how styles switch back and forth) with some crazy mischievous beats. While this is a nice low-key number sporting some slightly out-of-tune fake organ harmonizations, it does not seem particularly interesting. Some unique effects appear at varied intervals of the track, but they still do not salvage the average nature of the song.

Funny Little Man is a much more funky concoction with unusual tight screeches and computeresque noises frolicking vividly all over the place. A high-pitched vocal says "funny little man" every once in a while, adding to the cheery funk of the track. However, it is ruined at the end when a goofy computerized voice gives us some information that would be better off remaining unknown regarding what this 'person' would do to us in a sadistic sexual fashion. It is simply uncalled for, but it successfully portrays the darker side of Richard D. James, perhaps to an extent we'd rather avoid. Then again, I make it sound worse than it is.

Following this is the final mix of "Come To Daddy", the Mummy Mix and like the other two, you would have no idea that they have any relationship to one another. It is a dark mix with minimal pad usage, relying heavily on its random percussion (which is highlighted even further following a vocal request to get a "snare rush"). However, it is probably the least lovable of the three "Come To Daddy" mixes, and may even be skipped by bored listeners! Oh my!

Leading the rear is the cool-down finale, IZ-US, which means...something which I am currently unaware of. Of all eight tracks, this has a pretty standard-sounding beat in comparison with the other seven tracks. Again, this track uses the aforementioned organ harmonizations to deliver a laidback melody that seems to fit well with the overall sensations the song is trying to exude. However, it, too, may not keep one's interest for long.

As a whole, it's a mixed salad of rough and smooth tracks, and therefore it will appeal to fans of both Aphex Twin's industrial hardcore side and his ambient amusing side. Unfortunately, for both of these types of fans, one half of the EP will be deemed unappealing and so one must choose between their love of Aphex Twin and their desire for value when considering picking up this EP. Although I still recommend picking it up, the choice is yours.


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