Electronic music visionary Aphex Twin, aka Richard D. James, is known for his avant garde approach to music, splicing, cutting, and destroying digital sounds for the last 20+ years. Still, it’s been 13 years since his last “studio album” Drukqs was released, leaving a peculiar gap in the electronic music landscape. Since then he’s been DJing across the UK and relocated to Scotland. And now he’s ready to release a new album.
Titled Syro, a word created by his children, the album features 12 tracks and will be released on September 19 (or 22nd depending on your format of choice). I’m not sure what exactly to expect from the album but it sounds like he’s excited for the album and that this is only the beginning. Speaking to Rolling Stones, James said:
Horny. I’m feeling really horny about it. And very smug … I’m in that mode now, so hopefully I’ll stay in it for a while … I’ve got a few more things planned—at least a couple more albums, some EPs, things like that. Some more dance-y things I did about 10 years ago. Experimental things, noise things, weird things. Shitloads of stuff. They’re all pretty much ready to go.
Looking forward to it.
From a design perspective the album features a minimal, slightly cheeky packaging design from The Designers Republic. Long-time Aphex Twin collaborators, the album represents an unseen aspect of producing an album: the cost. TDR founder Ian Anderson explains.
“The intense, and ultimately pointless detail of the list really appealed to me … it was good working with James Burton and the team at Warp to stretch out this mantra that tells the reader everything and nothing about the creation of what I hear was an intensely personal album in the making reduced to the numbers of an album in the marketplace,” he adds.
Quite a conceptual way to go but it makes sense when you think of an artist like Richard James. For me it’s all about the half face screen printed onto the plastic which I’m sure looks crazy on the white sleeves. You can read more about the design of the album and an interview with TDR over on Creative Review.
Finding the intersections between music, technology, and design are often challenging but when it’s done well it can certainly open up new worlds. A perfect example of this is the partnership between James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame, and technologies company IBM who together creating “music” from tennis data supplied by the US Open. The video below does a good job of explaining how they code works and how they created an interface that was familiar to Murphy.
The outcome is quite unique, especially something on this scale. You can visit IBM’s Soundcloud page to get a taste of all the music that’s been created so far based on the data and it’s pretty staggering. It’s like an endless mix of chiptune tracks endlessly looping into one another. This Round of 16 collection is a perfect example as it runs almost 7 hours in total length, non-stop, back-to-back.
Adding to the experience is the fantastic artworks created for round by New York based artist and illustrator Karan Singh. I had been thinking about featuring Singh on the site recently though this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. His work is this mish-mash of hyper-saturated, flat colors which create the illusion of 3D shapes. I imagine this had to be a pretty fun yet exhausting project to work on. I’ve selected some of my favorite images below to give you a sense of the variety he’s created.
You can also see more of Karan’s pieces over on his Behance page.
Though it was a short week for many of us, I’m quite glad it’s already Friday and that the weekend is here. Easing me into the weekend is this incredible DJ set from Tycho, which he recorded while at the Burning Man festival last week. The set, which started at 5:40am, contains many of my favorite artists like Boards of Canada, White Denim, Atoms for Peace, Manitoba and many more. It runs a little over 2 hours so you’ll have plenty of mellow music to keep you going over the next few days.
I usually listen to music while I work, but I tend to put on albums with limited or no words, it’s easier to write that way. A lot of the time my go-to record is Solo Piano II by Chilly Gonzales. Released in 2012 the album is piano filled masterpiece that feels like an old silent film. There’s one track in particular though that stands out each time I hear and it’s called “Rideaux Lunaires”, the fifth track on the album.
There’s something magical about this piece that makes me think of the films of Miyazaki and the sense of wonder he achieves. At about the 1 minute mark there’s a beautiful refrain which makes you feel like you’re being carried away into the night sky.
If you’ve never heard this album before I highly suggest taking a listen, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
“Put it on as the sun goes down.” That’s the way Deru describes his newest mix which contains a number of unique tracks. Overall the mix is really laid back and mysterious feeling. There’s a lot of ambience to it and you’re never sure where it’s headed. My favorite part is The Acid transitioning into Philip Glass’ “Mishima” score. A mellow way to get the week started out.
00:00 – Random record samples #1
00:48 – Holger Czukay – Floatspace
03:46 – The Haxan Cloak – Excavation, Pt. 2
07:15 – Jacaszek – Dare-gale
12:25 – Kyson – You May Have Limited Time
17:18 – Random record samples #2
18:08 – The Acid – Veda
23:00 – Glass & Nyman: Works for Saxophone Quartet – String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima”
24:13 – Drew Gragg – Refraction
26:36 – Julien Neto – Sketch
29:59 – Random record samples #3
31:15 – Alessandro Cortini – Rovine
38:15 – Deru – The Future Never Comes
42:12 – Downliners Sekt – Soul Débris
50:18 – Random record samples #4
53:15 – Alex Banks – All You Could Do (Alternate Version)
57:00 – Mirroring – Fell Sound
1:02:11 – William Basinski – Dlp 1.1
Back in October of 2011, a small group of filmmakers, photographers and musicians travelled to the remote countryside of Iceland to document their experience, titling the film Outliers, Vol. I: Iceland. The film features photographers Tim Navis and Kim Holtermand, as well the electronic composer Deru – who composed and curated an original score based on field recordings from the trip. Now you can watch their experience in it’s entirety, which they’ve posted on Vimeo, and which I’ve embedded above.
If you enjoyed the film you should also check out the soundtrack that Deru put together, which features his original compositions as well as music from other great artists like John Talbot, Shigeto, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Son Lux, Asura, Heathered Pearls, and lots more. It’s only $9 on Bandcamp
, totally worth the price of two fancy coffees.
Japanese musician Yosi Harikawa caught my ear recently with his exciting style of making music which utilizes the sounds of non-musical objects. The track above titled “Bubbles” starts off with a bouncing ball, followed by a downpour of falling objects, like ping pong balls and perhaps some screws or bolts. He builds up into this lush, bassy sound which washes over your eardrums.
The track is pulled from his Wandering EP, which you can listen to by clicking here.
Italian producer C. Crisci, also known as Clap! Clap!, focuses on researching and sampling of tribes, bands and singers originating from the African continent, made a pretty amazing mixtape for Giles Peterson which I can’t stop listening to. His distinguishing technique is to reproduce classic African rhythms in a contemporary way through the use of drum machines and synths. The way he mixes all of this diverse sounds together is pretty exceptional. It has a perfect flow from beginning to end, and it’s quite hard to tell which parts he’s chopped up and altered. Really nice work.
I had no idea that Michael Cera was of the musical variety, yet here I am listening to an album he just put out titled true that
. If you had to guess what a Michael Cera albums sounds like you would probably stereotype him, imagining his music as twee, slightly emo, or perhaps pop. Instead you’re going to hear a lot of beautiful guitar and piano driven songs, influenced by jazz, classical guitar, and some folk. From what I’ve heard it’s slightly romantic, a little melancholy, and incredibly honest sounding. Kind of reminds me of Devendra Banhart, to be honest, which is a huge compliment in my mind.
I’m a big fan of Derwin Schlecker, also known as Gold Panda, and his worldly take on electronic music. Last week he released a new track titled “Clarke’s Dream”, a track which I’d describe as being straight funk, filled with high hats, deep looping bass lines, and a funky wah-wah guitar lick. I also really love the art for the single by Laura Lewis.