Thursday, 1 December 2011
Aphex Twin Top 200 - 60-41
60. The Tuss: Rushup I Bank 12 (2007)
The finest of the Tuss releases, rechanneling the manic energy of the snare rolls on Drukqs - but adding to it a weird, complex poetry that is different from anything on that record. Listen.
59. Aphex Twin: Vordhosbn (2001)
One of the four or five tracks on Drukqs that really works, Vordhosbn carries on in the vein of earlier drill 'n' bass material on the RDJ Album and Hangable Auto Bulb, but turns everything a shade or two darker. And where those earlier releases were by turns playful or melancholic, the best music on Drukqs is harder by far - with BPMs that are off the scale. Listen.
58. Aphex Twin: Ventolin (Video Version) (1995)
When this came out, it was my favourite Aphex track by a distance. The very shrillness and raucousness of the piece almost seems designed to ward off the listener, but I was smitten. It is an explosive track, and one that I have probably played to death, but it is the centrepiece of one of electronic music's greatest remix projects - the Ventolin EPs.
57. Aphex Twin: To Cure A Weakling Child (1996)
The very epitome of mid-90s Aphex playfulness, this track is a strange and heady mix of child-like tomfoolery and machine-gun snare drums.
56. Aphex Twin: Ventolin (Praze-An-Beeble mix) (1995)
Another astonishingly inventive mix from the Ventolin EPs. To put into perspective James' achievement on this record, it is only necessary to look at the kind of EP mixes his peers were releasing at about the same time. Where many saw them as a hindrance, a contractual obligation, James here briefly turned the electronic artist's remix EP into a towering art form. Listen.
55. Aphex Twin: Pancake Lizard (1995)
This is one of those records that I suspect many Aphex fans will have in their all-time top tens. That I don't is no slight on a track that I loved very dearly when it came out. Still do now, although to me the piece only really comes alive when the final two-minute coda unfurls. Listen.
54. Aphex Twin: Logan Rock Witch (1996)
One of the warmest, silliest pieces James ever wrote, Logan (or is it Logon?) Rock Witch has enough ideas in it for ten songs - and yet it whizzes by like a mere after-thought. Has strange echoes of Dylan's Lay Lady Lay as well, although the two pieces could scarcely be more different. Listen.
53. Aphex Twin: Come On You Slags! (1995)
Deeply sexist, utterly ridiculous but somehow inspired piece of kettledrum 'n' bass from James. Produced five years before its eventual release on ICBYD, it seems far more textured and far less sternly rythmical than the endlessly austere early releases on R&S that were possibly made alongside it. Listen.
52. Aphex Twin: Phlange Phace (1992)
Early Aphex intensity. Not the most endearing piece from the R&S sessions, but one with a strange, sombre violence undercut by moments of deep, dark introspection. Listen.
51. Aphex Twin: Girl/Boy Song (1996)
The track that sums up the whole drill 'n' bass period better than any other is an infectious, preposterous mash-up. Part pizzicato classical music, part drum n bass - it's all Aphex. Takes about an hour to get into gear, but it's worth it for the pay-off. Listen.
50. Aphex Twin: Dodeccaheedron (1992)
Xylem Tube must have a claim to being one of the top five EPs of the 90s. James was 21 at the time the record was released on R&S, and the EP is still perhaps the most idiosyncratic and inventive of any of those he has put out. Dodeccaheedron, the last track on the record, acts almost as a beat-filled dirge, a weird, sad, lonely blast of noise to finish off the EP. Listen.
49. AFX: Children Talking (1995)
Possibly the funniest of all the Aphex tracks, and certainly the best use of a sample I can think of, Children Talking is skeletal drum 'n' bass played for laughs. In fact, it sounds a little like three or four different ideas for a song put together in a hurry. All the same, it works well - and the mashed potato quotes are immortal. Listen.
48. Aphex Twin: Phloam (1992)
Dazzling acid-soaked Aphex drum frenzy. Would be number one on the list of most artist's best releases. Listen.
47. Aphex Twin: Shottkey 7th Path (1992)
Another gloriously singular Aphex piece, Shottkey 7th Path sounds like a half-remembered theory from a science lesson. But this is not cerebral or nerdy music here. Instead, what we get is a haunting mix of tribal drum beats and icy blasts of melancholy electronica. Listen.
46. Aphex Twin: Icct Hedral (1995)
I thought this would be in my top ten when I started this enterprise. The track was Beethoven, modernist minimalism and Warp Records all rolled into one as far as I was concerned as a sullen, lonely teenager. And that low, rumbling crunch in the background of the track almost killed me. Unimpeachable brilliance - although long since played to death in my household. Listen.
45. Aphex Twin: Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels Mount (2001)
Manic, frantic percussion, bpms ratcheted up to 11, and sad, breathless vocals washing over hazy, woozy refrains - this is Drukqs at its most energetic and liberating. Listen.
44. Aphex Twin: Ventolin (Wheeze Mix) (1995)
This turns the original's crunching, guttural blasts into something at once more melodic and more devastatingly deep and intense. Listen.
43. Aphex Twin: Acrid Avid Jam Shred (1995)
The track that kicks things off on one of Aphex's very best records and, indeed, one of Warp's very best releases. Set the tone for what followed on the LP with its mix of home-made, trip-hop-like beats and gentle, melancholic melodies. Listen.
42. Seefeel: Time To Find Me (AFX Fast Mix) (1993)
One of James' very finest remixes - a work that blew me away when I stumbled across it in a charity shop many years ago. One of his dreamiest records, it's always felt like an inspiration in some way for the dream-like records that Boards of Canada put out officially a few years later. Listen.
41. AFX: Laricheard (2005)
A beautiful anomaly among the squelches and groans of the Analord series, this springs out like a long-lost house tune from the late 1980s. A mix of Mr Fingers beats and bass and low-key melodic Aphex despondency. Listen.