Album: Aphex Twin

Drukqs, Warp
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The Independent Culture

Richard D James is a man who thinks big – where his music is concerned, at least. The two-disc set Drukqs is yet another overlong collection to join his previous multi-CD offerings and, like them, would have been vastly improved by a little judicious pruning. Or, alternatively, by being divided into separate discs dedicated to its two basic styles of drum'n'bass/techno wig-out and limpid keyboard neo-classicism. "Vord Hosbn" is typical of the former, a fast, skittish jungle rhythm programme illuminated by simple piano and glacial synth tones, the contrast between the manic beats and the more elegiac moments making for an unsettling experience. "54 Cymru Beats" likewise whips up a whirlpool of rhythm into which are stirred a few well-chosen chords, whoops and synthesised vocal fragments; while "Taking Control" adds some distorted mumbling about drum machines to the fractured rhythms. There's an excess of industry to this side of the Aphex Twin, which is balanced somewhat by the spare, elegant lines of his quieter classical pieces, which reveal the influence of such as Harry Partch (the clunky percussion of "Bit 4"), Erik Satie (poignant piano miniatures such as "Avril 14th" and "Petiatil Cx Htdui"), Karlheinz Stockhausen (the ambitious musique concrète of "Gwarek 2") and especially John Cage, whose innovations underpin prepared-piano pieces such as "Ruglen Holon" and "Jynweythek". The latter are particularly engaging, though not quite as avant-garde as they sound, given that Cage's methods were developed over 50 years ago.