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Aphex Twin - Drukqs Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 October 2001

Aphex Twin
format: CD
label: Sire Records
release year: 2001
performance: 7
sound 8
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

ImageIf I told you about a new drug on the streets that costs less than $20, gives you a high that lasts for over two hours, has no measurable side effects and can be used over and over, would you give it a try? I don’t condone drug use of any kind, but if you want to trip out legally, then I do condone the use of Drukqs, the new double album from British electronica artist Richard James, a.k.a. Aphex Twin. These 30 tracks, with bizarre names such as "Bbydhyonthat," "Hy A Scullyas Lyf A Dhagrow" and "Afx237 V7," will make you think you need to get a new prescription for your eyeglasses. Some may listen to the music and think they need a new prescription for their hearing aids.

The album’s cover shows a close-up of the hammers of an acoustic piano, which is quite fitting as the bulk of the music on Drukqs is atmospheric piano backed by psychotic drum & bass beats. It’s the soundtrack every aspiring college film student would want for his or her avant-garde art film. Heck, you could probably use these songs in your movies and 99.99% of the world would have NO idea where the music came from.

Listening to this entire double CD from beginning to end was mentally taxing and left me wondering what I just heard. Did I like it, did I hate it? I don’t know. I don’t recall one specific thing I heard, but I somehow remember it all. My brain is still scrambled hours after the fact. Mission accomplished, Aphex Twin. The first disc as a whole is the more atmospheric of the two. The instrumentation is sparse, rarely ever consisting of more than two or three instruments being played at the same time. Disc Two has more hooks and heavier beats to latch your brain onto. Yet, in the end, it all becomes a sonic wash that will most likely make your head spin.

From a purely technical recording standpoint, the album sounds quite good and is well produced. It’s been over five years since Aphex Twin’s last album and surely Richard James took his sweet time making this album sounded as close as possible to the musical chaos that he surely hears in his own head.

In a month when the music review section reads like a VH1 special, with reviews of Sting, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Green Day and Mick Jagger releases, this album by Aphex Twin makes me think a song from Sesame Street. It’s the one that goes, "One of these things just doesn’t belong here, one of the things just isn’t the same." Aphex Twin is far from mainstream and it is absolutely not everyone’s cup of tea, but hardcore techno fans around the world have heralded Richard James’ genius. A music theory and composition teacher could probably analyze the non-traditional use of harmonies, scales and rhythms on Drukqs for an entire semester. Does that mean that you’d want to add it to your CD collection? Only you will be able to make that decision after experimenting with Druqks for yourself.

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