Album Review: Aphex Twin’s ‘Syro’


Three and a half stars

Aphex Twin Syro

“The problem with being avant-garde is knowing who’s putting on who,” said postmodern first-grader Calvin of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. Richard D. James might’ve asked himself the same question after years of building and often confounding a cult fanbase with his experimental forays into/amalgamations of techno, jungle and ambient music.

Syro, the first Aphex Twin studio album in 13 years, has James sounding less like the post-rave prankster of the 1990s and dyspeptic glitch collagist of 2001’s tire-spinning Drukqs, and more like an artist who has dispensed with the subversion and even effectively corralled his many impulses—a dominant one here being electro-funk. “XMAS_EVET10 [120] [Thanaton3 Mix]”—the album’s de facto centerpiece at 10-plus minutes—might be as unpredictable as his most maddeningly wayward material, but repeated listens reveal a method, if not a narrative. Credit pronounced melodies (see “Minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]”) and familiar synth atmospherics (the title track) in James’ ability to invite listeners while still challenging them.

Photo of Mike Prevatt

Mike Prevatt

Mike started his journalism career at UCLA reviewing CDs and interviewing bands, less because he needed even more homework and ...

Get more Mike Prevatt
  • Among the handful of Nevada-based films screened at last week's shorts fest was a few music videos for local acts.

  • The group’s footprint here has included a Joint residency, Kiss by Monster Mini-Golf and Kiss-themed wedding packages.

  • It has become more political, with songs about the #MeToo movement and bias in the news. And its sound is noticeably more aggressive.

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story