Feast or famine

In early 2015, shortly after the release of ‘Syro‘ (his first studio album in 13 years), Aphex Twin temporarily uploaded some 230 previously unreleased tracks to SoundCloud – all under the characteristically bizarre moniker ‘user18081971’. I had previously read several interviews with him years back, where he claimed to have “hundreds” of unreleased tracks hidden away on a hard drive somewhere. Clearly, this was it (or at least some of it).

Like a lot of Aphex Twin’s work, this copious amount of music contains a number of tracks that aren’t entirely to my taste. I’m a massive fan of ‘ambient Aphex’, but not so much ‘frenetic, bleepy Aphex’ – both musical personas are well and truly represented here. Nestled among the 230 tracks, there are some real gems that take me right back to his iconic ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92‘. This has to be one of my most listened-to albums of all time, along with the more cerebral, ‘Eno’-like ‘Selected Ambient Works Volume II‘.

So, from a commercial point of view (yes, surely even Richard D. James has to think about making a living), was this pure madness? Or, was it an inspired digital experiment? This great article from The Guardian definitely claims the latter.

 

Have a listen

Below you’ll find a compilation of some of the best tracks, kindly made by a fan:

There are many other tracks I really like (for example, ’19 ssnb’ and ’15 autumn travels’ are great).

 

What next for Aphex Twin?

Who knows what will come next from Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin, aka Caustic Window, aka Polygon Window, aka The Tuss, aka AFX)? This guy has to be one of the most eccentric artists I have ever followed, so anything goes really. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on SoundCloud from now on just in case. All of the 230 tracks can still be found online if you look in the right places (ahem, Reddit). Part of me suspects that this underground online community of people sharing them was all part of the masterplan.