Aphex Twin – Syro
Just as last year’s Boards of Canada album suddenly arrived after a few years’ hiatus, so Richard D James finally emerged from reclusivity and released music under his most famous alias for the first time since 2001’s Drukqs. He spent the 90s blazing a trail through electronic music in ways beautiful, ground-breaking and confrontational. Syro is the sound of an artist comfortable in his own skin, not trying to shock or confuse, just writing music that sounds like no-one else. What was surprised me was how easy to listen to it all was – not in an ‘aural wallpaper’ way, just that he’d brought the needle back from the red and cut out the barrages of noise that he sometimes mischievously dropped into his tracks. The success of these tracks lies in their spectacular intricacy. I would bet that there are barely two repeated bars across the whole hour of music. It is absolutely masterful, almost like a musical fractal – the more closely you listen the more detail you hear. ‘Melodies’, as such, don’t last for long, they warp and mutate, getting lost in the ever-changing beats, which confirm Richard D James as a consummate master of rhythm. ‘Play that funky music, white boy’ indeed.