Aphex Twin is a pen-name of sorts for Richard James. His music is sometimes considered rather quirky. His more recent works display dramatic shifts and changes in percussion structures, rhythms, and sounds. By no means do these sound simple. For those hearing these works the first (several) times, it can be quite difficult to listen to though it does pay off after a few spins.
Last night, I was listening to his Ambient Works – Volumes I and II. As I listened, I realized how influential the albums had been in influencing my appreciation of ambient music. His ability to create simple ambient textures from very basic sounds is quite excellent. Specifically, his 1994 release Selected Ambient Works Volume II turned me on to understanding what ambient music could be.
The structures are repetitive and at times deceptively simple. Behind these apparent simplicities are a tremendous musical voice. The sounds are gorgeous and arranged into a lush landscape designed throughout the albums.
He certainly uses an interesting assortment of hardware in addition to his creative ability to arrange the sounds. The contrasts he sets up are quite vast and give the listener a lot of room to explore. The sounds used are very organic in nature. They are often not familiar in the sense of sounding like a piano or guitar, but they are familiar in the sense of sounding nearly primal.
Perhaps it is a testament to the strength of the artist to be able to see or hear beauty in the most abstract or simple of sounds. Creating art from the everyday, displaying concepts unknown or unconsidered to a wondering audience.