Thursday, 1 December 2011

Aphex Twin Top 200 - 40-21

40. Aphex Twin: Flaphead (1992)

One of the most original records James ever released, and a tune that still sounds stunning in its otherness to this day. So simple, yet so brutally remorseless. An Aphex classic. Listen.

39. Aphex Twin: Mould (1994)

Another utterly simple premise, but this time from a completely different part of the musical spectrum. Languid, mysterious - this could play for an hour and not get boring. Listen.

38. Aphex Twin: Alberto Balsam (1995)

Lovely stuff - but is it heresy that this isn't in the top ten? Listen.

37. Aphex Twin: Ziggomatic 17 (2001)

Ziggomatic 17 is one of those tracks on Drukqs that seems to go through seven or eight different phases on its approach to climax. It's a meandering, masterful work. Listen.

36. Aphex Twin: Domino (1994)

One of James's bleakest pieces. A simple, jarring refrain loops over itself relentlessly in an approach that in theory shouldn't work at all. The results, however, are gripping. Listen.

35. Aphex Twin: Cornish Acid (1996)

Seemingly an off-hand two minute interval between more substantial works on Richard D. James, Cornish Acid is in itself a mightily satisfying piece. Brutal rhythms.

34. AFX & Squarepusher: Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid (1998)

The track that changed Radiohead, this is easily Aphex's most successful collaboration. James restrains Jenkinson's tendency for over-elaboration and zaniness here with darkly sardonic music built upon layers and layers of shifting rhythms. Listen.

33. Aphex Twin: Mookid (1995)

Irresistible prettiness from Aphex's most popular album. The marching band style drum beat alone is perfection. Listen.

32. Jesus Jones: Zeroes And Ones (Aphex Twin Reconstruction #2 Mix) (1993)

Music to listen to when spinning through space. James entirely rebuilds the brash, banal Jesus Jones original to create something at once lyrical and utterly desolate. Listen.

31. Polygon Window: Quino-phec (1992)

This is the one track on Surfing On Sine Waves that moves beyond the techno formula followed elsewhere. Quino-phec heralds the haunting, elegaic ambient music that he would create on SAW II two years later. Listen.

30. Aphex Twin: Blur (1994)

The track on Selected Ambient Works II that, better than any other, sums up the pared back feel of the album. Almost nothing is happening here - but the bare bones are fascinating. Listen.

29. Aphex Twin: On (1993)

Probably the first Aphex track I ever heard, when it scraped into the top 40 one week in the early 90s - and probably one of the five or six most popular pieces James ever released. It would be higher in this list, but after the spectacular opening two minutes, it slightly seems to run out of places to go - making the video edit much the better version. Listen.

28. AFX: Klopjob (2005)

I suppose this must be the finest moment of the somewhat indifferent Analord series. At times, Analord seems to go nowhere. At others, it springs out and astonishes the listener. Listen.

27. Aphex Twin: 4 (1996)

"Richard?" asks a voice. "Yeah," he answers. And then joy unconfined ensues. Listen.

26. Aphex Twin: Wet Tip Hen Ax (1995)

James really did like his anagrams in those days, as this song's title reveals. Silly name, but deadly serious intent here on a piece that almost reeks of its singular originality. Listen.

25. Aphex Twin: Blue Calx (1994)

If Eno is ambient's pioneer, Aphex is the one who turned it into something truly musical. Pieces like Blue Calx infuse the low-key, evanescent quality of Eno in his prime with a rich melancholia that is all of James' invention. Listen.

24. Aphex Twin: The Waxen Pith (1995)

Is this the best track on I Care Because You Do? I would never have said so before, but I picked it ahead of all the others. It's certainly dated better than some of the pieces on that album, and has more levels to it than many of the other tracks on there. But I could do the list again in a year and pick something else. Listen.

23. Aphex Twin: Analogue Bubblebath (1991)

The very first Aphex release - and one that James drew out into a series of five, sometimes completely unrelated, EPs and LPs. Comes from a different place entirely to the stark, haunting early material he was putting out at this time on R&S, and is possibly more endearing as a result. Listen.

22. AFX: Laughable Butane Bob (1995)

This is the best thing Aphex ever released, isn't it? Well, possibly it is - but years of playing this maddeningly addictive record have taken the edge off its appeal to me. But still undeniably brilliant. Listen.

21. Aphex Twin: We Are The Music Makers (1992)

Didn't really like this much when I first bought the record, but can't get enough of it now. The funk of that beat, that enormous bassline, the delight of that melody - superb. Listen.

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