Aphex Twin (aka Richard D. James) brings forth another feast of abstract electronic dance music in recent EP Collapse, a five-track mind-bending deconstruction of noise that’ll disorient your concept of reality. It’s an aural acid trip that’ll teleport you to another dimension as it takes you over.
Delving into the abyss of sound for something less relaxed than 2014’s Syro or 2016’s Cheetah, Collapse morphs into something expectant of one stuck in the transitional realms between realist and The Matrix. It’s somehow classic Aphex and totally random new Aphex at the same time.
Lead track T69 Collapse opens with a familiar melodic sound before things are turned on their head and the chaos commences with a rush of staggering drum beats and warped glitchy synths. Digital chimes lift you towards the heavens in periods of peace, while thunderous pummelling drums return the ordered disorder to bring you crashing back down to earth.
The Aphex trip is only enhanced with T69 Collapse’s corresponding music video, which was actually pulled from release and released only online as it failed the Harding Test, ruling it unsafe for epileptic and photosensitive viewers.
1st 44 is a somewhat sonic inception, a track within a track, with intricate fluctuating synths and fuzzy rhythms over bassy tones that pulse at various speeds. It’s got a creepy atmospheric tone to it, which hits its apex towards the end as elements become more spaced and stretched.
Slightly harder hitting MT1 t29r2 goes deep into the abyss, really deep. From blissful ambience and dreamy tones to flickering raucous beats, there’s a high degree of that tasty unpredictability that makes Aphex so intriguing. It’s got some nice hooky synths thrown in but unfortunately most are too short lived and infrequent to really enjoy.
On the mellower path, the more conventional Aphex track, abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909], is more placid, taking on a slower tempo with reduced percussion and synths. It provides a period of relative peacefulness within the surrounding chaos, though murmured monotone child-like vocals fixed within the track’s noise adds some chillingly ominous layering to it.
Finale pthex is another toned-down track with some dominating bassy beats overshadowing frequently morphing synths. As the song progresses the synths’ speeds pulse amongst reverberating bass tones. The occasional cautions silence between beats really enhance the track’s obscure atmosphere.
Collapse seamlessly transitions between periods of digital anarchy and chaos in parts to peacefulness and tranquillity in others. It’s a reflection of Aphex’s finest elements and is undoubtedly some of his most interesting, and possibly best, work to date. The shorter EP length is almost the perfect dose of Aphex, just the right amount to induce a hypnotic aural trip into another dimension but still stay grounded.
Aphex continues to push the boundaries of sound and our concept of noise, further cementing his place as one of the upper echelons of contemporary electronic music. Collapse not only offers a glimpse into another world but an impressive experience within it. It’s simple, yet chaotic sound will not only stimulate brain cells, but also beat the living shit out of them at the same time.