At this point in time, Richard D. James’ career as Aphex Twin has been gargantuan. After a 13-year hiatus and a scattered collection of EPs varying in quality, it feels as though the Cornish electronic-guru has been building up to something potentially spectacular. His latest EP, Collapse, doesn’t quite hit the peaks of his earlier work in the ‘90s – but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
The EP starts immediately and intensely with ‘T69 Collapse’. Brimming with whirling synth notes and a lightly stuttering beat, the song, at first, bears similarity to James’ earlier works. Around two minutes in, however, the track changes entirely, veering into a much darker territory. The droning synths ominously wail in the background as the drum pattern mutates into a chaotic explosion of crashes and kicks. It’s invigorating stuff, and thankfully, the following tracks follow similar jarring tonal shifts. The second track, ‘1st 44’, is one of the strongest on here, utilising eerie and distorted vocals lifted from a live version of The Specials’ ‘Guns of Navarone’, placed atop the swirling hums of bass and bubbling percussion. ‘MT1 t29r2’ is another incredible cut of Aphex’s typical IDM, and perhaps the most unpredictable song on Collapse – continuously shifting in tone and tempo similar to the opener, but in a much more accentuated fashion.
While it’s not quite as groundbreaking as his earlier records, Collapse is the strongest release since Aphex’s comeback and another fantastic addition to his already mesmerizing discography.