I wasn’t sure what to expect from Richard D. James’ latest effort. Richard swore off music publishing a while back. In fact this double-album is his first full-length since ’96. It’s pretty good, but it isn’t revolutionary. There are more of the sweet melodies and frenzied beats I’ve come to expect of the Aphex pseudonym. One big change is Richard’s use of piano.
There are five stand-out tracks. First up is “Jynweythek,” a gorgeous low-key percussion tune. Richard is wise not to let it last too long. Next up is “Vordhosbn.” Its speedy rolling snares and deep bass booms accompany a high-pitched melody reminiscent of classic Aphex. “Kladfvgbung Micshk” combines gamelan-inspired gongs with an engaging bass-line. Unfortunately it’s cut way too short. “Avril 14th” is one of the nicer piano interludes. I’d love to hear a remix of it with some electronic instruments or nostalgic vocal samples in the background. Finally, “Mt Saint Nichel + Saint Michaels Mount” sounds a bit Squarepusheresque with swirling bits of distortion and chopped-up jungle beats. It peaks around the three-minute mark when the melody is most prominent. At the end, little melancholy vocal bits surface as the track breaks down.
It’s difficult not to get your hopes up when you hear there’s a new release from an artist you haven’t heard from in years. Richard’s provided us with plenty of tracks, but unfortunately Drukqs isn’t a terribly cohesive album. Not only that, but we’ve heard virtually all these sounds before. Perhaps Richard will surprise us someday with another landmark like I Care Because You Do. Until then, even his mediocre releases are worth a listen.