Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album (1996), 7/10

One of Aphex Twin's punchiest yet most playful albums. This is an evolution from a musician who clearly had a mindset of progression and momentum, experimenting and contorting an impressive array of sounds. The album not only has some of his most interesting, eclectically written songs, but the record itself flows perfectly from beginning to end with a surprisingly cohesive narrative. Depending on your mood and perspective you may lean towards either this era or towards his ambient works, but both are masterfully crafted and endlessly engaging. This iteration of Aphex Twin’s sound is overflowing with character and personality, there is no mistaking this collection of sounds and electronic palettes for anything other than the [i]Richard D. James Album[/i]. It can be abrasive, calm, or sometimes bordering on silly, but never relents or compromises in its intention or realized sound. Sure, some of these songs and especially their aesthetics fall into the category of nostalgia for many, but the album is coherent and cohesive, piling on a barrage of novel sounds and breaks that prove nothing short of uplifting and endlessly charming. One could argue that the project did not progress enough to contend with his best, but it hosts a remarkable breadth of new material with details and complexity never previously seen or heard in this style of music. It is accessible yet elaborate, clean yet enigmatic, even bordering on effortless if not for its convoluted rhythms and textures. Clearly one of Aphex Twin’s best and most innovative releases.