Sunday 14 April 2024

Saving The Date

Had this scheduled for a while, normally I like to do these date posts for a quick stopgap, but as I'm sure you're aware it has been a hot minute since I've been around (more on that at the end) - so I figured I'd expand it out to somethin' a little bigger. Let's go.

Today we're talking Drukqs, the sort of black sheep of Aphex Twin's discography, and for a long time the last proper full length album from the man until Syro. Hefty in length - 30 tracks over 2 discs (rising to 34 with some bonuses if you snag the donwloadable version from AFX's Warp page), though some of them debatably shouldn't count towards that number - track 13 Aussois being 13 seconds of distant voices, Bit 4 is similar but with a two note warble. But I digress, we're here to talk about the flipside of the album, twinned with the usual Drill 'n' Bass you'll expect from Aphex are a fair few beautiful Piano interludes.

And we may as well start with by far and away the most famous of the lot and the namesake for this post - Avril 14th. Even those not into Aphex at all will probably have heard this in some format: it's been sampled a lot in addition to appearing in a wide variety of media, TV shows and other miscellaneous avenues. It's a perfect demonstrator of this side to the album - achingly beautiful and lovingly recorded in a way that you can hear lots of incredible small details on a close listen. It's not my favourite of this type of tracks on Drukqs, but it's one I will always stop and listen to if it comes up.

I'm going to jump around the tracklist a bit and shine a light on some of my choice picks from the list - the album actually opens with one, the comparatively noisy Jynweythek. Sporting an almost eastern influence in parts, it's very different from Avril while retaining that same overall sound. My favourite Aphex Twin tracks have always had a strong melodic component, it's something that he excels at, and Jynweythek has it in spades. It might not be dripping in acid or backed with ludicrous snare rushes, but something about it remains identifiably Aphex.

Drukqs feels like a very personal album - sometimes in very obvious ways - Lornaderek being a voicemail recording from Richard's Mum & Dad on his Birthday (Currently I am being pained by the realisation I am now older than him at the time of this album's release), the track titles heavily featuring a lot of Cornish language, the region where Richard grew up. Of course, the Piano songs have this inherent pang of nostalgia to them - but one that stands out most of all to me is QKThr, the sole organ track of the key-focused side of the album invokes coastal scenes effortlessly.

Retutning to more Avril adjacent territory next. The opening melody of Strotha Tynhe is one of the first to come to mind when I think of these tracks. Which is a little odd as it only really appears the once, the rest of the runtime flirts with returning to the same, but always with a slight variation. In my more arty moments I might say it's a fantastic depiction of the way things change over time. Very pretty either way.

Looping back around to the same sort of sound from Jynweythek for the penultimate selection. Hy A Scullyas Lyf Adhagrow might be near enough my favourite of the bunch, short and sweet but I could loop it a couple of times and be just as happy. Once again a great showcase of Richard's ear for melody, it's a very pretty listen, the ending note puts a nice full stop to things, would have made a nice end to disc 1 on it's own but there's another Piano tune that follows it.

The actual closing track on the other hand, Nanou2 is just sublime. Very understated compared to some of the other examples here, it shares little in common with it's prequel (that being Nanou from the Windowlicker EP), though that is also a lovely little bit of melodic machinations from Richard. Wonderfully structured and perfectly placed on the tracklist, it's one I can come back to time and time again and it never bores. Simply wonderful.

And that'll about do it for today, apologies again for the long abscence - it sounds cliché to say but I plain don't have as much time as I used to. I am going to try and make an effort to be around more, I have tons of ideas for posts but putting pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys) is the hard part. If the day does come when I decide to stop completely I will be sure to say so and not just go full ghost. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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