AFX: Chosen Lords

Rephlex, 2006

Aphex Twin’s first new material since 2001 is a series of eleven 12-inches released last year. (I reviewed volumes 03 and 04.) Now Rephlex is reissuing about a quarter of those tracks on CD. Richard D. James himself made the selections, and the result is a surprisingly cohesive album of retro electro, acid, and techno.

This nostalgic return to James’ roots reminds me of Luke Vibert’s YosepH, but of course the AFX sound is distinctive—I can recognize it a mile away. No one else programs so intricately with so much emotion and creativity. The first track, “Fenix Funk,” sounds like a love song to the past, with voices worked in everywhere. It starts with waves of echoeing chimes, hard bass synthesizer, and vocoder. Gradually plaintive notes build, their sound similar to James’ mid-nineties work. The middle of the track breaks down into classic analogue synths in an arrangement that reminds me of Baroque classical music.

My two favorite Analord tracks are on here: “Pitcard” and “Crying in Yur Face.” The former features a sea of reverberating piano pulses. Alive electronic voices emit a soaring melody, then there are several buildups of brutal squelches. On “Crying in Yur Face,” a barely undecipherable vocoder combines with 303 that will make you weep.

Most of the tracks are more subtle. “Cilonen,” for example, just hints at a melody, but offers speedy percussion and bleeps at its end. Another favorite is the dramatic “PWSteal.Ldpinch.D,” which is enigmatically named after a Trojan horse computer program. A downtempo beat and lush, pretty chords give this track a real eighties feel.

Freescha, Global Goon, and others are obviously inspired by the “AFX” side of Richard D. James’ personality, but James still does this style of music best. He has a voice that shines through all of his work, and when he’s on like this, it’s awe-inspiring.

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6 Comments

Richard D James's GOD!

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The only artist that comes close to the amazing sounds of Aphex Twin, or in this case AFX, is Flashbulb. Personally my favorite Aphex Twin is earlier works, such as Select Ambient Works vol. 2 and the early AFX e.p. releases, as well as his last l.p., Drukqs. With its random mix of pulsing drill n bass and prepared piano, I feel that album is one of, if not THE most important electronic album ever made, due to the emotional complexity it creates with nearly every track. As for the latest release, I was amazed to find what a great 'best of Analord' James has put together as the next addition to his already abundant collection of releases. He clearly is pushing the envelope on what heights of creativeness electronic can create, as well as paving a huge path for new comers and followers to build on. Flashbulb is a fine example of a newcomer who followed in Aphex Twin's footsteps. If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to Flashbulb you should check out 'Kirlian Selections' and 'Girls Suck But You Don't' as those two albums are very comparible, if not equal, with such Aphex Twin Albums as Drukqs and the Come to Daddy e.p.

As for 01- Fenix Funk I have to say the crowning feature is the use of overlapping keyboards throughout which, I feel were some of his best.

The best part of 02- Reunion is the slowbuilding beginning. It opens with something similar to the ambience of Select Ambient Works vol. 2, and quickly builds to another pulse pounding electro masterpiece.

03- Pitcard, has a very retro feel to it. The keyboard useage is dreamlike.

As for 04- Crying in Yur Face, there's not much I can say about it that isn't said in the above review.

05- Klopjob has an evil but beautiful feel to it, as though he was, as with most tracks in Drukqs, utilizing the darker parts of his creative mind to provoke thoughts of raw evil emotion.

06- Boxing Day, and 07- Batine Acid are two more with very retro acid beats.

08- Cilonen, my personal favorite, is very intense and fast moving, while keeping the ambient keyboard in the background throughout to create more raw emotion unlike almost anything available in the electronic genre. Oh, and he is probably the only artist out who can seemlessly incorporate the useage of a cowbell into an electronic song and make it work.

09-PWSteal.Ldpinch.D is as simplistic as I've heard Richard D James since the early AFX eps. Enough emotion to bring a tear to any fan's eye.

10- XMD.5a, wow, what a fantastic way to end the album. The longest song on the album, it clearly goes through many of the different variations of the electronic genre that he has been exploring for the duration of his musical career. Nobody but Aphex Twin can create anything close to this display of genius.

For anybody listening to Richard D James for the first time, I recommend this album. For the fans, He's still the best, and probably always will be, so you must add this one to your collection.

'Come on you c|_|/\/+$, let's hear some Aphex ACID!!'

The album is amazing, but to be honest, I think that james has left out a couple of songs that would of made the album, if possible better.

I think W32.mydoom@AU should have been on the album, But all in all I think this album is amazing. If you're a big fan of the new album, I would seriously advise that you buy the full vynal series... expensive but fully worth it.

Conor.
www.jaymaccool.tk

superb piece of work for us people that no longer purchase vinyl and would have heard this previous to this release, im just glad he released it in digital format, cryin in yur face is the highlight.

Is anyone going to see him play live on the 30th april ;0)

I agree with the above comment. You should definitely check out the full Analord collection on vinyl (Analord) if you enjoyed Chosen Lords, which is basically a highlight album. Where is he performing on April 30? I wanna go!