As most electronic/IDM fans know, a new Aphex Twin album isn’t like any other release, it’s more like an event; the anticipation and expectation reaching fever pitch many months in advance of the release itself. Maybe it’s because Richard James (aka AFX, Aphex Twin et al) has carved such a niche for himself. Ever since his groundbreaking "Selected Ambient Works" RDJ has seemingly been unwilling to settle on his laurels, and has pushed his music to the extent where he can only be put in a category of his own making. This freedom has lead to many releases that would not normally be afforded to other artists, as it was with the release of the "Analord" series of 12” singles last year (granted through his own Rephlex label, but still…).

"Chosen Lords" is a selected ten track highlights CD of these releases, rumoured to have been hand-picked by Richard James himself. It is obvious this album will be received favorably by a wide selection of electronica fans, with or without reviews of the material, but anyway…

The album features two of Mr James’ main monikers; the eponymous Aphex Twin on both the first and last tracks (“Fenix Funk 5” and “XMD5a” respectively), with the bulk being from AFX. For me it is the Aphex Twin tracks that stand out – both taken from the tenth Analord Release; and both hitting the spot musically; incorporating mangled vocals (former) and distorted church bells (latter). The other tracks veer between jittery electro stabs and wonderfully old school acid melodies.

The album shows a return to the roots of Aphex, and is probably one of the most consistent albums released by him in the last decade. None of the tracks here are overly-complex or challenging, instead the focus is more on the rhythm and melody that Aphex is so capable of achieving. This retro return marks a move away from the hyper speed drill and bass which was starting to become a feature of the later Aphex Twin (think “Come to Daddy” and at least a quarter of the “Druqs” album); something that may disappoint the fans of the harder material. Somehow I don’t think AFX will be losing too much sleep over that though!

The main thing to say about this album is that so, so many people wondered what the future of AFX would be after "Druqs", the MEN releases and the chaotic live DJ sets. I think nobody predicted this, a coherent, solid and accessible collection of electro tunes. So where to from here?


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