Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (R&S/Apollo Double 12″/CD); Polygon Window: Surfing On Sine Waves (Warp LP7 Double 12″/CD)

ALWAYS PREJUDGE the intentions of a piece of music by its title. The judgement may not be entirely fair, yet its accuracy is frequently uncanny. Richard James, teenage Techno iconoclast and DIY technologist, aka Aphex Twin, Polygon Window and numerous other noms de waveforms, has a head start, in that his talent for naming is prodigious.

These two (sort of) double albums collate tracks which reflect the less hyper aspect of the Twin, most of them apparently named with oblique reference to labels on cough linctus, rooting powder and other pharmaceutical and botanical products, with perhaps a dip into dictionaries of etymology and philosophy. ‘Tha’, ‘i’, ‘Hedphelym’, ‘Green Clax’, ‘Audax Powder’, ‘UT1-dot’, ‘Quino-phec’ and ‘Quoth’ tend towards agreeably lo-budget jazz fusion (minus the jazz), industrial (minus the industry) or surf music (more Surfers Against Sewage than Annette Funicello). If you alpha when a 909 bass drum rams the levels into zone red, then sample.

© David ToopThe Wire, February 1993

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