An artist who is often imitated but never equalled, the promotion for Aphex Twin’s Syro, which included a blimp and releasing details on the deep web, was some of the most original this year, and that’s even after we all woke up with a new U2 record on our iTunes. He clearly isn’t one to do things in a conventional manner and just about every song on what is his first album in 13 years testifies to this.
Many tracks have erratic qualities that keep you on the edge of your seat and it is rare to find two bars that are repeated. Even ‘XMAS_EVET10’, which clocks in at over 10 minutes, manages to completely avoid becoming repetitive. Instead of reprising sections of the songs, he adapts and manipulates the same sounds to his own abnormal liking. It may seem easy for Aphex to fall into the category of IDM, but his sound is too versatile to be tied down to any one genre.
Every song fits in with the sound of the album while still remaining its own entity. ‘Syro u473t8te’ is one of a few tracks that have traces of funk over his signature scattered drum patterns and ‘180db_’ wouldn’t sound out of place at a rave in the 1990s. ‘PAPAT 4’ sums up the sporadic style of Syro as it goes from ambient and relaxing, to furiously fast drums and then back again. Part of his success is due to this eccentric style and it is what makes this such an intriguing listen.
Album closer, ‘Aisatana’, is the most stand alone track on the album as he casts aside his various electronic instruments in favour of melancholic piano chords, accompanied only by the sounds of birds chirping. It is a blissful end to an otherwise captivating, chaotic and stereotypical Aphex Twin album. Each track is packed with enough character and variety to make you want to remember some of the ridiculous song titles for another listen.