Album Review by Mark Bayross
It’s been five years since RICHARD D JAMES, the last album from the Cornish electro-maniac of the same name. The multi-persona-ed, tank-driving, turntable-sanding mentalist has a devoted following among mathmos and ravers alike, and this release has been nothing if not eagerly awaited. Clocking in at thirty tracks across two CDs (or four LPs – DRUKQS is the heaviest vinyl record ever produced), the quantity of music here should certainly satisfy all that waiting.
Alternating between belting rhythmic drum & bass and gentle, Satie-style piano pieces, much of the mood of the album recalls the ‘Selected Ambient Works 2’ collection – this is more about texture, and contrasts in texture, than it is about songs. In typical Aphex fashion, there are no real song titles (unless ‘petiatil cx htdui’, ‘kladfvgbung micshk’ and ‘beskhu3epnm’ mean something to you), further emphasising the fact that the onus is on the listener to make sense of all this.
Nonetheless, this far from the chaos of industrial noise or drill and bass – the heavy moments occur at regular intervals, and when they do, there is a sense of order to the scattershot beats. Buried beneath the supersonic pulse of tracks like VORDHOSBN, MT SAINT MICHEL + SAINT MICHAELS MOUNT and the whip-cracking OMGYJYA-SWITCH is a sense of subtle, haunting melody creeping through.
Of course, there is always the suspicion with the Aphex Twin that he’s taking the piss – a couple of the tracks are mere seconds long, and Mr and Mrs James appear to sing happy birthday somewhere on disc two – but it doesn’t really matter if he is. He is perfectly capable of making accessible music (CARE BECAUSE YOU DO contained many soothing moments), but where’s the fun in that?
DRUKQS is a worthy addition to the canon of a maverick innovator whose music will undoubtedly be appreciated as pioneering in years to come.
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