Aphex Twin’s “Collapse” EP: Dynamic, Manic and Electric

Aphex Twin performing at Field Day Festival in 2017. Photo by Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock (8856120dm)

Richard D. James has been creating some of the most innovative electronic music of our time since 1991. His post-comeback sound, however, has brought us some of the best music of his entire career. It is rare for an artist to make music for 27 years and continue to produce new, edgier and fresher sounds as time goes on.

The album is a new kind of hysteria. Every track on the EP has ‘drill ‘n’ bass’ influences. The drums stutter and skip, like a thousand tennis balls being pelted into a court at random. The mania underlying the EP keeps the tracks energetic and creates the kind of buzz that can keep you raving all night long.  The rhythms twist and turn and chop and change very dynamically. He keeps things interesting throughout the record and sets off multiple percussive chain reactions to keep us on our toes. If you try to move your feet in time, you’ll trip over yourself. The only thing you can do is give up control and let Aphex Twin take over your body.

Things also slow down and get stripped back at points. There are moments in “MT1t29r2” which are almost euphorically relaxing. If these moments weren’t interrupted by heavy drum ‘n’ bass, you could almost lie back and float away to them. The recurring dreamy themes come and go, pulling you in and out of a trance.

The final two tracks have a more mellow feel. There are twinkly melodies, upbeat synth and an obscure childlike vocal which is delightfully unnerving. The track “abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909]” slows down to 75 BPM and then Aphex Twin throws in a handful of bizarre sound effects. We’ve got spray cans, cars, explosions, all mixed up with deep bassy kicks. Everything slows and flattens out while synths take you back to that dreamy place.

The EP closer, “pthex,” takes us back to that manic rave state and then phases out into silence which leaves you unsure what to do next. As far as electronic music goes, Collapse EP truly is the pinnacle.