Aphex Twin, 'Collapse' EP – Review
by Alex Kither
Aphex Twin’s latest five-part EP ‘Collapse’ will force itself down your neck before you’ve even had a chance to chew it.
While much remains the same in his idiosyncratic approach to IDM, AT has moved away from the austere Jungle sounds that defined the Cheetah EP and instead gives a nod to the acid-techno decadence of his former career, without wallowing in indulgence. If anything, this approach shows a serious attempt at innovation; one that delivers. He plays with a variety of textures and layers to form engaging instrumentation, akin to some of his more eccentric work, but noticeably restrained when we are returned to familiar motifs. Through the first two tracks, it’s the pace of the drumbeat that pulls us through, often without concern for the surprisingly languid delay of the synths. The counterpoint sounds between harpsichord imitations create a warped and, at times, anxious tone which cultivates an uncomfortable sense of urgency. It is at 'MT1 t29r2', in the middle of the EP, where the album becomes most difficult to digest, and closest to his earlier work in Richard D. James Album. While the track is ambitious, it is pulled off with style, punctuated with moments of levity and bled together with eerie vocals reminiscent of haunted school children. Though the vocals come off a little trite, the classic return to form with this track proves to be a high point in the EP. The album ends on a slow down, ruminating with deep-bass inflexion. It both gives you a chance to recollect on what you’re listening to and demonstrates the range AT can provide in a single track. Ultimately, Collapse is a deconstruction of electronic music. Each track puts itself to the test and you can hear the process behind it. Aphex Twin breaks his own form apart and the result is an album which feels familiar, yet still presents a challenge to the listener.