Cheetah - Aphex Twin
By Benjamin Irons
Richard D. James, who you may know by his more recognisable alter-ego Aphex Twin, has, for the best part of 20 years now, outpaced any one singular class, category and character in production- and would likely cast a middle finger to anyone who told him to take an antithetical approach to making music. From the release of his career-kickstarter “Power Pill” Pac-Man remix back in 1992; to the fantastically nutty videos that have adorned his later works “Come To Daddy” and “Windowlicker”, James has continued to fly in the face of normality, so it comes as no surprise that his latest extended play, Cheetah EP, abides as much convention as anything and everything else under his infamous alias.
Though his previous records have exhibited James at his hare-brained but – nonetheless - ingenious self, the simplistic nature of Cheetah EP’s first two tracks “CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]” and “CHEETAHT7b” paint a placid picture. Howbeit, the beats are seldom dull. In fact, because they are so distant from the usual scatty rhythms that adorned James’s earlier workings Xylem Tube EP and Digeridoo EP, it arguably makes this Aphex Twin’s most refreshingly satisfying record yet.
It’s the arrangement of ambient synths and kaleidoscopic timbres that are clear-cut on tracks “CHEETA1b ms800” and “CHEETA2 ms800”. Deliberately 20-30 seconds shy of the minute mark, they serve as calmative intermissions, opiates to help you sink further into the hypnotic sequences that embellish the entire record. Not that you needed these to make your journey through Cheetah EP a pleasurable one. Even the livelier successor “CIRKLON 3” has elements of calmness in it. Albiet the nimble attack of the drum and bass that amplify the aforementioned track, and even its successor “CIRKLON 1”, its suitability as the calming background music to a Rayman-esque video game adventure is in no way put off. That, then, is the magic behind Aphex Twin’s entire discography.
James’ inability to keep us, the listeners, stagnate is what makes his discography the most inspiring. And Cheetah EP is absolutely no exception. But, this is unsurprising; it’s the work of a man at his brilliant best. Cheetah EP is an effortless entry into the electronic scene with all the components of a groundbreaking extended-play, but without the hype of one.