In late August, Richard James, better known as Aphex Twin, started hyping fans for his new 2014 album Syro by flying a blimp around New York and London and posting logos. Shortly after those sightings, he gave fans the tracklist for Syro, and a preview of the first track, minipop 67 (120.2) [source field mix]. We didn’t have to wait long before Warp Records released the entire album on September 23rd. With the evolution of technology, popularity, and even stage production since his last released album, we’re very curious of what Aphex Twin has in store when he (hopefully) starts announcing some tour dates soon.
A lot can change from an artist’s standpoint between albums and Aphex Twin’s last release was thirteen years ago. So when it was clear that we’d be getting new beats from him by the end of the year, although many people were jumping for joy, many were still wondering what to expect of the new album.
Has Aphex Twin’s sound changed over the years? Be assured that this album is just as crazy, insane, and experimental as his previous work, but with much cleaner and sharper sound than anything Richard has ever made. Syro doesn’t seem quite as sporadic as his earlier releases, with an unexplained dark side that we didn’t expect, urging us to explore the whole album. We claim Syro a ‘must-listen’ for your ears and highly recommend giving this album at least a few spins before making any hard, concrete evaluations.
Whether you are new to listening to Aphex Twin or have been a fan since the very beginning, Syro is in a league of its own. Older fans will notice this album is sharper, cleaner, and more crisp sounding than any of Aphex Twin’s previous work. Syro is easily just as, if not more, detailed and layered with different sounds and effects compared to prior releases. So far, all of the reviews we’ve seen on various sites have fans – new and old – raving over how good Syro is. Aphex Twin’s song structure is stronger than ever before and it really shines throughout the album, especially after playing it through a few times and getting used to some of the songs.
Standout Track: 4 bit 9d api+e+6
All the songs heard on Syro are in fact songs, although they might just feel a little bit different than what you’re used to, especially if you are just getting on board as an Aphex Twin fan. Expect lots of loops, samples, and various instruments layered over an upbeat beat for the majority of the songs. The track, fz pseudotimestretch+E+3 and the last song, aisatsana are the only slower ones of the album’s dozen songs. We think these two tracks are a nice break from the ridiculously in-your-face sounds of the rest of Syro.
Syro is certainly a new approach for Aphex Twin, but according to all of the other reviews we have stumbled upon, everyone seems to fully embrace anything Richard James puts his hands on, including this new album. There does seem to be different emotions and moods throughout the album that might not be apparent in the first couple of rotations. The way Richard layers together samples of so many sound is simply fascinating. We recommend purchasing Syro to fully grasp what the album is all about, over and over again. With lots of bland and unappealing albums coming out recently, Syro has been heavy in our rotation and with each listen through the album, it just keeps getting better and better.
Standout Track: minipops 67
While there are some albums that seem to ‘flow’ together, Syro does not. Although there are a lot of songs that have the same through-the-roof tempo, each songs is completely unique and sounds vastly different than one another. As for the music, Aphex Twin is a master of being able to layer different instruments on top of one another and still make it sound amazing. When you listen to these tracks, right away there is something that tells you these tracks took an insanely long time to produce and put together. Syro sounds like nothing else we have ever heard before. Even with earlier Aphex Twin releases, this one is much more mature than some of the classic releases. The last track, aisatsana beautifully brings Syro to a close, ending the album on just the right note.
Standout Track: aisatsana
As we just mentioned, Syro is completely in a world of its own. Nothing else out there sounds like this album. No one can blend together different effects and instruments the way Richard James can. Lately, there has been a lot of recycled beats, synths, the whole nine yards, but this whole album is fresh with nothing you have ever heard before. Syro’s 4 bit 9d api+e+6 and s950tx16wasr10 stand out as the most original tracks with some of the most unique and fascincating sounds that we have heard in quite some time.
Although there are no confirmed tour dates yet, we can only hope that Aphex Twin starts making some festival and club appearances very soon. This generation really needs to experience the complexity Aphex Twin can do in a live setting. For now, purchase the album on Amazon for extended listening pleasure or take a listen on YouTube.
Standout Track: fz pseudotimestretch+E+3
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