The brains behind the moniker Aphex Twin (aka Richard D. James) released this onto the music world back in 1992. It is widely considered one of the top electronic albums of all time, and many consider it to be the best electronic music album. Period. Let’s have a listen to this and see if it stacks up to that claim.
We begin with Xtal which is a melodic and ethereal piece of beautiful music. Some loud 4/4 beats come in, with more brilliant and clever heavenly melodies come along. Eventually, breakbeats come along. This sounds like a very decent and special listening experience. A great way to begin a historically important album in music history. If you can close your eyes and listen to the wonderful beauty here, do so. It transitions into a minimalist and wonderful track gradually and carefully. It demands repeat listens, and sets the scene for this album, which deserves its classic status from this track alone. A refreshing and rewarding listen, any electronic music fan should seek this out as soon as possible. It ends with a lone melody.
Next is Tha which begins with heavily electronic treated beats. It gradually shifts into another similarly ambient listen. This isn’t a party album 100% per se, it is a home listening experience. Samples of inaudible conversation are here, along with more spacey melodies. If anything, this is futuristic (for 1992) and an amazing listening experience. It sounds superb, and no doubt a great deal of effort went into this music. A psychedelic experience is seemingly here, regardless if it is influenced by drugs or not. Some extra melody lines then enter, making this oddly catchy. It’s a relaxing and inspired listen. Peaceful energy flows throughout this track. A hint of Acid sound comes through the track as well. Top quality listening experience. It plays a lone melody to fade out.
Pulsewidth comes along next, with a more energetic and dance based flow. It’s another solid and consistent effort by Aphex Twin, showing that a little bit of variety on an album really does spice things up. There are 4/4 beats, other percussion and beautiful reoccurring melodies through the track. A refreshing and gentle listen, although coming in as a shorter track on the album. It ends with a bassline melody and the main riff of the track reoccurring.
Ageispolis is another interesting and captivating tune to listen to. It begins with a memorable melody and head rush electronic sonic sounds. Like the rest of the album, it sounds all as one, and is refreshing and consistently brilliant. It flows excellently and superbly. In the background are sounds of waves rushing at the beach, along with some interesting and everchanging beats. The kick drum beats sound loud and massive here, propelling the piece along very well. A clever and original piece of music. Refreshing.
The next piece, I, begins with some ethereal and otherworldly melodies, which sound somewhat ghostly. It’s a deep and compelling listening experience. It is over before you know it, however.
Shortly after, we have Green Calx which sounds as though it is an Acid House piece influenced by The Prodigy. It really is enjoyable and interesting as a track, however. A straightforward and awesome listen, it is semi-danceable, although very quirky. Very good, and a bit different from the other tracks here. A great interpretation of the late 1980s Acid House scene in the Aphex Twin mold. Epic, and awesome. Some trippy noises in this are really cool, and intelligently done. A cut up mixture occurs later on in the track, giving it added emphasis and a twist.
Heliospan reveals a loud and sharp set of ethereal melodies, before a simple melody enters the scene. Breakbeats then come into the mix, showcasing this track very well. The beats stop with extra melodies arriving for your listening pleasure, before the beats return yet again. This music is not simply just good, it is genre breaking and is a good idea to play to a friend or two who are limited in musical taste. Simply listenable, and enjoyable. A very interesting piece.
We Are The Music Makers is a great track from the start, sampling the original Charlie And The Chocolate Factory’s Willy Wonka character. It is a more rhythm and beat oriented tune to hear, and is enjoyable listen, with a semi-Breakbeat/IDM feel. Music need not know any boundaries, and this is an excellent track to showcase the album for a listen. An awesome bassline comes along to show you what Aphex Twin can masterfully do. A great listen all the way through. Very catchy. Reoccurring melodies float in and out of the mix, which require headphones to truly experience this well. Towards the end, the bass, beats and the vocal sample finish off a great track.
The next piece is Schottkey 7th Path which has a science fiction melody feel about it. It sounds moody and melancholic, showing a different side to the world of Aphex Twin. There are some slightly distorted drum beats in this which are unusual. It is not as peaceful sounding as the other listens on this album, but a bit of variety is okay nonetheless. A strange piece with unusual sounds within, it sounds unsettled emotionally. It fades out gently.
The beatastic Ptolemy arrives next, with juicy beats and delicious Acid textures, it is rather catchy and danceable, unusually so for this recording. It is a definite improvement on the previous track, and just fits the album perfectly. It builds up into an energetic frenzy which is very good. A nice way of showing the world what electronic sounds and textures can achieve. Nice and catchy, it is a definitely top quality listen from this album. A science fiction like melody enters in the midsection of the track. In the second half, more prominent beats are added into the mix. This sounds better than most EDM these days, it is just simple and exciting. Good effort.
Hedphelym begins with some very surreal sounds, with some strange and disturbing melodies then entering into the dream scape. This is an unsettling listen for most people out there, complete with a loud kick drum sound. It sounds creepy and dissonant in general, not dissimilar to Industrial music in that respect. It also sounds like something out of a hybrid science fiction and horror film. Melodies move in and out of the mix, making your blood rush and hair stand on end. Mind you, this is a very good piece, regardless of all that. It does sound super creepy though.
Delphium is a much more straightforward listen compared to the previous track, sounding a lot like 808 State around this time. It is a simple and solid Ambient music piece. With various elements such as Acid sounds, 808 bells and simple beats, it sounds refreshing to listen to, even today. It is very catchy, so for sure listen to this one with no fear or regrets. Good effort and another prime example of why this album is so strong musically. Just when you think it fades out, it comes back to the beat with no regrets.
Last is Actium which sounds a lot more commercial and acceptable for being so. It is a simple track for simple music lovers with a repeated bassline, interesting sound melodies and samples. It is a great way to wrap up an interesting, and well worked on, album. Dual melodies arise in and out of the mix, which is interesting. Refreshing. Melodies dual up and intertwine for effect throughout. It progresses in a subtle and interesting way.
Should you believe the hype about the classic status of this album? For the most part, yes. This is definitely a good album. However, the length of this album drags it down somewhat. Some gentle editing of the length of tracks may have helped things. A good, but not great, listen but still worth hearing.