Aphex Twin is up to something! Logos popping up over the world, most recently in Hollywood, have stirred plenty of excitement for obvious reasons. Whenever Aphex Twin does something it’s a momentous occasion in the electronic music scene. You can pick out classic Aphex Twin tracks by just reading off any of his release tracklists. ‘Windowlicker’, ‘Xtal’, ‘Alberto Balsam’, ‘Lichen’, ‘Donkey Rhubarb’ - the list goes on, and on, and on.
But away from his main project, the artist born Richard David James has made mind-blowing music under a whole host of different names. Check out some of our favourites below.
Caustic Window ‘Squidge In The Fridge’
The tantalising opportunity to hear unreleased RDJ material united his fanbase in 2014 and sparked a crowdfunding campaign that saw 4,124 backers raise $67,424. The Caustic Window LP was originally planned for release in 1994 but canned after just five test pressings were produced. When a copy surfaced for sale on the internet 20 years later, there was no way the AFX legion were going to allow it to remain so exclusive, and a digital distribution deal was struck with Rephlex Records via Kickstarter and ‘Caustic Window’ filtered out through the world. At the time of release, a few months before ‘Syro’ landed, it felt like new RDJ material might never come. Hearing those 20 year old tracks for the first time, like the airy, playful ‘Squidge In The Fridge’, was a rare treat. The physical copy, meanwhile, was sold to Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, who is known to throw huge EDM parties with the likes of Deadmau5 and Skrillex playing, for $46,300.
User18081971 'Sams Car’
Aphex Twin’s tune dump on SoundCloud as user18081971 in 2015 was a thrilling time to be a fan, bringing over 200 old demos to the world for the first time. The description under ‘Sams Car’ read: hard to find my old tracks, coz i couldnt afford to buy blank tapes, used to grab tapes at random, like my mums johnny mathis tapes, stick a bit of selotape over the hole so it would record and record but most of the time i never even rewound the tapes to the beginning, just wherever it was on the tape, then forgot which tapes i recorded it on, although if some have tape, it\s a clue but still have to find the bloody track and ona c90 that can take fucking ages!” HIs genius is so constant and prolific that he’s able to churn out killer jams like this with a shrug; must be nice.
GAK ‘GAK 4’
The closing cut from RDJ’s 1994 EP as GAK is brilliantly woozy, with a snaking bassline and a synthesised choral tones floating overhead. There’s a softness to the production but it’s also a bit freaky and peculiar, brimming with James’ personality.
AFX ‘Analogue Bubblebath’
What more to say here other than it’s one of the most perfect tracks ever written? Apparently written when James was 17, it featured on the first ever release he put out under the name The Aphex Twin. It later was reissued under the alias AFX, and kicked off a series of ‘Analogue Bubblebath’ releases. Put this cut on and enjoy your ascent to Nirvana.
The Tuss ‘Last Rushup 10’
This track shows off James at his ridiculous, chaotic best. Palpitating bass notes, raw synthesiser gurgles, junglist percussive lines merging into a headfuck concoction. It’s like the sound of a robot coming up.
Bradley Strider ‘Bradley’s Beat’
In typically mysterious Twin fashion there’s an ongoing debate on which speed this record is meant to played at: 33 or 45 RPM. There’s no official direction specifying either way, and each camp are strong believers in their view. The 33ers often cite the richness of the bass and hypnotic qualities of the slower version; the 45ers appreciate the rowdiness of the higher tempo. Check both above and pick your side.
Phonic Boy On Dope ‘Window Peeper’
11 years before Aphex Twin released perhaps his most famous track ‘Windowlicker’ he made this funky beat ‘Window Peeper’ (although it didn’t surface until 2014). Stitching together samples from soul, reggae, hip hop, r’n’b and jazz records and injecting some Aphexian acid for good measure, this track is a magnificently crafted and, primarily, just loads of fun to listen to.
Polygon Window 'Bike Pump Meets Bucket’
The artwork for this record (the ‘Quoth’ EP’) features RDJ descending the stairs in Elephant & Castle tube station, the site where the first logo advertisement was spotted this week and resparked Aphex mania. ‘Bump Pump Meets Bucket’ sees James in cheerful form. There’s an almost balmy atmosphere generated by the relaxed, shoulder-bopping groove.
Power-Pill ‘Pacman’ (Power-Pill Mix)
Video game soundtracks are often peoples’ first introduction to electronic music, and they’ve influenced a generation of electronic music innovators. RDJ putting his own spin on Pac-Man under the alias Power-Pill is predictably great. As silly and playful as that as a concept should be, but also legitimate a banger that radiates euphoria. It also calls to mind the famous Marcus Brigstocke joke.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on Twitter