Friday, May 11, 2007

Mister Trend's Random 10

Not to rip off too much, but I'm going to offer comments on a song/artist from the Random 10 from time to time, too. However, I'm just going to arbitrarily pick one song/artist from the list each week, instead of sticking with the 1st or 7th or 10th track only.

This week, I just want to comment on Aphex Twin, who is possibly one of the most creative, intelligent, and underappreciated musicians out there. He tends to get doubly ignored, because those who don't like "techno" (in their generally false conceptions of what "techno" is) automatically discount it without hearing it. Even those music-lovers who adore experimental music in jazz, no wave, classical, and elsewhere ignore James's work as an aesthetic endeavor because it's "just techno".

Even worse, within the techno community, many put Richard James (aka Aphex Twin) in the "intelligent dance music" category, which is one of the worst titles of all time. There is really no word to describe his work. Yes, it's based on "techno" instruments (i.e., computers and beatboxes), but he pushes that medium all over the place, from Ambient (Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 1 and 2), to bass to acid to house, while never working in the conventions of any of those forms. His use of beats, beeps, reverb, and computer tones to create haunting soundscapes of all tempos is unrivalled. James is certainly a unique character - his remix album is unbelievable (and humorously, and perhaps realistically, calleed "26 Mixes for Cash"), and the mixes go so far from the original versions of the songs, a journalist asked him if he had even listened in depth to a Nine Inch Nails song he'd mixed. His response (and I paraphrase) - "I don't need to. I know my version is better".

Anyhow, check out some James, and listen to more than one of his albums - they are all over the place. My personal favorite is "Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2", but you can't go wrong with any of his works.

1. "It's Raining" - Quasi
2. "Antitech" - Efterklang
3. "Shoes" - Akron/Family
4. "Daddy Sang Bass" - Johnny Cash
5. "Urubu Malandro" - Radam├ęs Gnattali Sexteto
6. "Start As You Mean to Go On" - Aphex Twin
7. "John McLaughlin" - Miles Davis
8. "Eine Alpensymphonie - Elegie" - Richard Strauss
9. "Tangled Up In Blue" - Bob Dylan
10. "Matamoros Banks" - Bruce Spingsteen