Prior to the announcement of his new album, Syro, Richard D James a.k.a Aphex Twin teased fans with the possibility of a new album by flying a blimp over London bearing the Aphex Twin logo, and the digits “2014”. The same logo was later spotted outside Radio City Hall in New York. Now, Aphex Twin has decided to open up about his upcoming album, scheduled to be released on September 23. Syro will be his first full-length album release in 13 years, following 2001’s Drukqs, exciting Aphex Twin fans around the globe. James revealed that although some tracks off Syro were recorded as long as six or seven years ago, the project still has him “kicked into gear” as he is currently using electro-mechanical instruments like MIDI pipe organs, Disklavier controlled piano, and computer-controlled percussion to make songs for the album. The 43-year-old family man admitted to getting the name for the album from a made-up word that one of his children created. Not only is the title of the album influenced by his family, but also features unintelligible vocals from James, his kids, his wife, and his parents, making this long awaited album release special for both his fans and himself. Aphex Twin also revealed that along with the album release, there will be a limited-edition version that includes an extra track printed in ink on heavyweight cardstock.
When asked about his musical habits in a recent interview with Pitchfork, Aphex Twin described himself as “a serial killer for sounds” as he immerses himself in a wide variety of genres. “I buy ridiculous amounts of files,” he said. “I always go to that thing, ‘Listen to the last eight weeks of whatever’. And it’s all those billions of genres, like Scouse house. There’s actually better music now than ever, that’s ever existed before in my life. It’s all kind of good listening stuff.”
Not only does he have a knack for finding inspiration across multiple genres, but he also collects individual sounds from other records, stating, “I have to know where they come from and how they’re made,” he continued, “I bought every old sampler in existence and bought all the sample libraries. Like a serial killer, basically. I’ve gone through all of the sounds and worked out where everyone got all their sounds from.” Aphex Twin’s attention to musical detail and admirable care for the creation of sounds across genres displays his merit as a dedicated producer. Although he is a world renown producer and DJ, it’s not all about the fame and recognition for James. He has been known to anonymously DJ in the past and still admits to doing it. He explained that “the good gigs are always the smaller gigs. The few I’ve done recently, just for fun, totally anonymously, were so much better than a normal gig. The sound system’s usually shit, but it’s really nice when nobody knows who you are.” This down-to-earth take on the DJing profession is refreshing to hear, considering that Aphex Twin is someone who has legions of fans around the world. The fact that he prefers to DJ anonymously should assure his fans that he is solely in it for the love of music, if it wasn’t already evident enough.
Back in June, fans of Aphex Twin were able to purchase digital copies of his rare, unearthed album, Caustic Window, using a Kickstarter campaign. A physical copy of the record, which reached the pressing phase in 1994 before being scrapped, was auctioned on eBay and sold for £27,198. Once the album reached Kickstarter, the album exceeded its goal by more than $50,000. For James, “the whole thing is just really touching. When they reached that goal on Kickstarter and it kept going up—people just wanting to give it money, even though they didn’t need to do it—it’s like, ‘Oh wow. Humanity is nice after all.’ Fans were just so happy to get it, fucking hell. I’ve got thousands more like that at home. I should release all that stuff as well.” To continue the discussion on rare Aphex Twin albums, James confirmed in a recent interview that he was the artist behind the much-rumored-about 1995 album, Melodies From Mars: “There’s a really bad copy of it on the net. I think I gave the tape to Warp, so one of those fuckers leaked it years ago. I actually went back and re-edited it, because I almost released it again, but then I got distracted again. Each time I go back to it, I realize there were loads more tracks. So it started off like a double album, but I think it’s about four albums’ worth. So it’s really hard to pull together. I just need Warp or someone to come around and say, ‘Come on, let’s fucking get these things out.’ But they don’t, so it’s just up to me. And nobody else hassles me.” Although Melodies From Mars is still in circulation online, a proper release of the album would be an exciting event for Aphex Twin fans, but nothing has been confirmed.
James also recently spoke out about Kanye West sampling the song ‘Avril 14th’ off of his album, Drukqs. Kanye used the sample in his track, ‘Blame Game’ from the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. When asked about what happened, Aphex Twin said, “Is it a sample? I actually don’t know what it ended up being in the end, I’m so slack. I know that he tried to fucking rip me off and claim that he’d written it, and they tried to get away with not paying. I was really helpful, and when they first sent it to me, I was like, ‘Oh, I can re-do that for you, if you like,’ because they’d sampled it really badly and time-stretched it and there was loads of artifacts. I was like, ‘I’ll just replay it for you at that speed if you want.’ And they totally didn’t even say ‘hello’ or ‘thanks,’ they just replied with, ‘It’s not yours, it’s ours, and we’re not even asking you any more.’”
Thankfully for us and Aphex Twin fans alike, Syro won’t be his last record. Check out the track titles for the album below, named in reference to the machines used to make the album.
‘minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix] [aka the manchester track]’
‘XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]’
‘produk 29 ’
‘4 bit 9d api+e+6 [126.26]’
‘CIRCLONT6A [141.98][syrobonkus mix]’
‘fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]’
‘CIRCLONT14 [152.97][shrymoming mix]’
‘syro u473t8+e [141.98][piezoluminescence mix]’
‘PAPAT4 [pineal mix]’
‘s950tx16wasr10 [163.97][earth portal mix]’