Artist Profile
Aphex Twin

appearing on Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series in the early 90s with his song “Polygon Window”, recorded as the Diceman, Richard D. James began the first proactively personality driven IDM careers. Due to the minor success of an earlier single and album, “Digeridoo” and Selected Ambient Works 85-92 respectively, James was asked to sign to Warp in the early months of 1993.

After the release of “On” and an album under the Polygon Window moniker, James confounded expectations (as he would do many times in the future) by releasing a double disc set of completely ambient works, entitled Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. This album, while misunderstood and reviled by critics who had begun to accept his merging of hardcore rave and synthetic ambience, remains one of James’ finest and unsettling works. The public agreed, as it went to no. 11 on the British charts.

After this success, and a subsequent distribution deal with Sire in the United States, James recorded his most abrasive single to date, “Ventolin”. The song mixes a high pitched tone, which resembles the tone heard by asthmatics before they become unconscious- if they don’t get their medicine, and industrial inflected rhythms. The accompanying album, I Care Because You Do, is a blend between the hardcore rave beats that once ruled James’ songs and a more melodic and softer ambience, shown on Selected Ambient Works, Volume II.

Following this success James went on follow a path in IDM that was being explored by Plug and Squarepuhser, experimental drum ‘n bass. The Richard D. James Album married the experimental aspect of jungle to James’ innate melodic sensibility, once again. At once a step forward into paths unknown, James’ penned one of his finest songs on the album, in “Girl/Boy Song”.

More recently, James has released three works. Come To Daddy, which is a scattered EP of tracks that range from beautiful melodies to harsh industrialism, Windowlicker, a hit and miss single that offers up the idea that perhaps James’ had run out of innovation, and Drukqs, the most recent double album that has been labeled a let-down by most Aphex Twin fans.

Despite his recent lackluster offering, which admittedly is still miles above what most IDM producers are able to achieve, James appears to be content with leaving his career at this unfortunate bookend. Taking a heavier interest in his own record label, Rephlex, James has fallen away from the public eye in the past year after the release of Drukqs making a few public appearances at shows.

Whatever James decides to do in the future, regarding music, his place in the history of electronic music is assured. As the figurehead, along with Autechre, of the experimental electronic music movement, James has pushed the boundaries of what can be considered dance music, while still maintaining a strong footing in the area of evocative melody.

Quick Facts:

Current member(s): Richard D. James

Location: Cornwall, England

Style: IDM

Labels Appeared On: Warp, Rephlex, Sire, Elektra, EFA, R&S

Major Releases:

Analogue Bubblebath III (1992, EFA)
Digeridoo (1993, R&S)
Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1993, Apollo)
On [Remixes] (1993, Warp)
Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2 (1994, Sire)
Ventolin (1995, Elektra/Asylum)
I Care Because You Do (1995, Sire)
Donkey Rhubarb (1995, Warp)
Hangable Auto Bulb (1995, Warp)
Richard D. James Album (1996, Elektra)
Come to Daddy EP (1997, Warp)
Windowlicker (1999, Sire)
2 Remixes by AFX (2001, EFA)
Drukqs (2001, Warp/Sire)

Starting Point: I Care Because You Do (1995, Sire)

Essential: Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2 (1994, Sire)

By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2003-09-01
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