Caustic Window: Caustic Window LP (digital release, Rephlex, June 2014)

Let’s start this with a TL;DR, ‘cos I kinda want to shout this from the rooftops: this is an album which Aphex Twin mysteriously didn’t release in 1994; it got a semi-official digital release funded by a kickstarter this year; and it’s GREAT.

As you can probably tell from the excited tone, I was a bit of an Aphex fankid back in the day. I wasn’t exactly a completist, but I bought pretty much everything I could get my hands on (and if I ever see a copy of the other Bradley Strider record for sale, I’d probably still buy it). This despite that fact that RDJ’s many fine qualities didn’t really include a rigorous attitude to quality control. It’s easy to imagine that some stuff got released on a whim, or to annoy or confound people, and there was plenty that was quite forgettable. So the news of the twenty-year-belated release of the Caustic Window album was obviously a source of great excitement, but also some trepidation.

But, as you can probably tell from the excited tone, I needn’t have worried. This work stands proudly among the best of his pre-drill’n’bass work. Which is to say, I love it. Stylistically, there’s a mix: some SAW-style ambient techno, some harder stuff more like, say, Quoth, and some demented rave which could fit nicely on Digeridoo or Xylem Tube. It’s got that fantastic interplay between apparently disparate elements which is the hallmark of his best work, and that awesome control every last detail which makes it easy to imagine that he’s directly manipulating the sound with his brain rather than resorting to mere hardware and expert knob-twiddling. It’s got that subtle sinister edge, alongside some of the most obviously paws-in-the-air acid melodies he’s recorded. Basically, it’s GREAT!

(I remain excited but considerably more trepidatious about the recently announced actually-new album, Syro…)

I bought this through the Kickstarter.

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