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‘This is not music’: 30 years of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works


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Ed Power explores how Cornish enigma Richard James changed the future of music with an inscrutable 13-track masterpiece, and went on to become the demon prince of electronica, leaving fans to search for hidden codes – and any sign of the artist himself

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I'm a bit mixed on this album. On one hand, it's revolutionary for it's time and should be remembered as a classic and an important history piece of not just ambient techno or IDM, but electronic music in general. On the other hand, it's revolutionary for it's time and it's a shame a lot of new fans who are introduced to IDM to ambient techno music as well as critics still put this album high on a pedestal to critique everything to come after, even though a lot of electronica to me is much catchier, more lush, not derivative and better than this album to me. Xtal is cool hearing it the first time, but then I heard hundreds of more melodic IDM songs, and now it's just fine.

Edited by President Squidward
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Nah, it's still great. I'll take those gritty tape tracks over smooth contemporary idm any day.

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listen to at least 1 track of it everyday, schottkey being my favourite track of all time. fanboy 🤮

now that we are all getting old, what's next!! 

Spoiler
Spoiler

😇

 

 

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On 2/13/2022 at 7:53 AM, President Squidward said:

I'm a bit mixed on this album. On one hand, it's revolutionary for it's time and should be remembered as a classic and an important history piece of not just ambient techno or IDM, but electronic music in general. On the other hand, it's revolutionary for it's time and it's a shame a lot of new fans who are introduced to IDM to ambient techno music as well as critics still put this album high on a pedestal to critique everything to come after, even though a lot of electronica to me is much catchier, more lush, not derivative and better than this album to me. Xtal is cool hearing it the first time, but then I heard hundreds of more melodic IDM songs, and now it's just fine.

Aphex Twin was still developing his style while making those. I do prefer his music from RDJ Album to Collapse.

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It's one of my favorite albums, mostly due to the fact that I have a lot of very fond memories associated with it. At the same time, it's honestly pretty dishonest and shortsighted to point at an album and claim it as an objective best of all time award just because of its cultural significance. It deserves the reputation it has, but leveling it to this divine status kind of undermines the significant progression in his discography, let alone the genre as a whole.

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Aphex has made many better songs than those that are on SAW, but Tha is on absolutely another level - for me at least. Something about it is really timeless.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/13/2022 at 1:53 PM, President Squidward said:

even though a lot of electronica to me is much catchier, more lush, not derivative and better than this album to me. Xtal is cool hearing it the first time, but then I heard hundreds of more melodic IDM songs, and now it's just fine.

Please, educate me. 

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Pulsewidth, Ageispolis, Ptolemy and Green Calx are probably my favorites on this album. As far as trying to decide whether it's overrated or underrated, who cares? You can listen to both the old and the new. Some people may place too much emphasis on an album's place in history, but this album is genuinely great. At the same time, you don't need to always be thinking in terms of making a desert island disc. You can have it all. It's not a competition.

I do like the sound of a cassette tape that was mangled by a cat, but I also like cleaner productions.

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On 2/17/2022 at 2:09 AM, wa11heaven said:

It's one of my favorite albums, mostly due to the fact that I have a lot of very fond memories associated with it. At the same time, it's honestly pretty dishonest and shortsighted to point at an album and claim it as an objective best of all time award just because of its cultural significance. It deserves the reputation it has, but leveling it to this divine status kind of undermines the significant progression in his discography, let alone the genre as a whole.

That is usually a sign that the person claiming it hasn't listened to the other stuff in the discography of the artist they are claiming it of. Because it is just so wrong about Aphex's music. You drop caring about the effect of the album on the wider music industry, and that album is to me... not even in the middle of the list of his best albums. Probably toward the back. He just made so much more interesting stuff after that it just doesn't seem like an accurate observation.

For every track on that album he has since made ... 5-10 better tracks in that style when revisiting them.

Edited by Brisbot
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Crazy how time flies. "Girl/Boy (£18 Snare Rush Mix)" is up to "Girl/Boy (£35.95 Snare Rush Mix)"

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On 3/21/2022 at 2:29 AM, Brisbot said:

That is usually a sign that the person claiming it hasn't listened to the other stuff in the discography of the artist they are claiming it of. Because it is just so wrong about Aphex's music. You drop caring about the effect of the album on the wider music industry, and that album is to me... not even in the middle of the list of his best albums. Probably toward the back. He just made so much more interesting stuff after that it just doesn't seem like an accurate observation.

For every track on that album he has since made ... 5-10 better tracks in that style when revisiting them.

 

How can someone's opinion an album is their favourite be wrong?

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3 hours ago, Richie Sombrero said:

 

How can someone's opinion an album is their favourite be wrong?

Fair. You may find something more 'interesting' but it doesn't necessarily make it the 'best' or your 'favourite'. 

 

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On 3/14/2022 at 4:05 AM, flacid said:

Please, educate me. 

I'm still exploring slowly myself, but hearing artists like Plaid, Brothomstates, many Merck artists, stuff going on in touched music like EXM and Karsten Pflum. Hearing some Monolake or Yimino get reccomended to me while streaming, has made more eyeopening and fun experiences hearing songs by them for the first time, just like how many people feel with this album with Xtal or something. I do like Tha plenty, but I think tracks like Squeeze Me by Yimino, EMR by Plaid, Qtio EP and MDRMX by Brothomstates or Autumn is Coming by EXM will always resonate with me more and probably land as top tracks of all time for me. 

So, it's more of just personal opinion and seeing a lot of people judging on RYM or critic sites where this album being the sole reason everything after it must be compared to it. I appreciate this place giving so much love to electronic musicians, but I guess as a fan perspective, it's a bummer seeing so much good shit get ignored as people either just check out the top IDM stuff from Aphex BOC, early Autechre, Four Tet and then hundreds of cool releases that are just as worthy of the listeners times gets ignored awfully outside of here.

But I guess it doesn't bother many artists but I wouldn't know many personally. It would just be a bit cool to see many others get a bit more recognition for their great music as well just as much as the classics do, I guess. 

About the derivative thing, idk hear many comparisons of artists being ripoffs of Warp because they do something melodic or glitchy. I only feel a couple artists or songs felt like that to me.

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On 3/24/2022 at 3:26 AM, Richie Sombrero said:

 

How can someone's opinion an album is their favourite be wrong?

I never said wrong, I said less accurate. BIG DIFFERENCE. And I didn't mean it negatively but i guess dry online text means everything seems like someone's super duper serious opinion.

You can hear half of someone's discography and have a favorite, but the guy who has listened to everything and has a favorite probably has a more wholistic view yeah? That is what i mean by 'accurate'. It's not wrong to have a favorite while only listening to half of a discography. Never said that. I guess I can see why you read it that way, but it's not what I meant.

More people listen to his older stuff than his newer stuff overall. When I run into another person who likes AFX... on the internet and IRL, not on WATMM. They will often love his 90s stuff, but listened to Syro and Collapse like twice and conclude he sucks now. Too much dad funk. OR they will have not listened to the new stuff at all.

It doesn't apply to everyone. It's just a trend I have noticed.


 

Edited by Brisbot
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On 3/21/2022 at 3:30 PM, wa11heaven said:

this gives me chills every time I listen to it

I also love this one. This is the track that got me into ambient as a whole genre.

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                                                      second track is tha one to rave them all

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On 3/29/2022 at 1:26 PM, President Squidward said:

 or Autumn is Coming by EXM will always resonate with me 

Do you know there's another version of it? Somewhere on BC on some compilation I think. Edit: Cannot find it rn, it's definitely existing and some kind of remix. 

He's awesome. He's just recently released a track "untitled" on the ambient side. A bit lengthy and repetitive, but if you like it... some Nils Frahm melody vibes. 

Edited by WurstPLUS
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