Richard D James’ new EP, Collapse, is his first outing since the Cheetah EP of 2016, and, in many ways, a progression from it.
Developing in sound and movement, Collapse is a rumbling-rolling EP, mixed with transient and abstract undertones. It heightens the pace and has a strong percussive focus, creating for a deep, icy sound. Rumoured since the appearance of stylised Aphex Twin posters in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and New York during summer, Collapse is an EP we’ve all been waiting for.
‘T69 Collapse,’ the first track on the EP, offers an opening dense with sound, but not convoluted. The beats bend and interweave in an add complexity. Staggered rhythms give way to breakdowns that are frequent in a somewhat irregular song, one that is engaging to listen to. The same could be said for most songs on this EP, the production and clearly the thought process behind each tune are of such high quality.
Another stand-out of the EP is, ‘MT1 t29r2’. A sample reminiscent of a human voice, eerily off, breaks into a melodic buzzing noise. The changes in this song are contrasted hugely, and for the first time in the album, the frantic roll seems to dull for a moment. An airy piano line is played, slowly building to another breakdown, and overlaps the industrial styled percussion. The breakdown, however, is smooth, and glides into the dance beat.
‘Abundance’, coincides well with the rest of the EP, with thin ambience resting upon a thick beat. The faded, light use of synth is placed under a snare-heavy, almost militaristic beat. If it wasn’t for the interesting sample used, I’m not sure how much this song would stand out. Nonetheless, the abundant use of popping toms produces a pleasing, bubbling sound, contrasting nicely with the aforementioned snares and synths.
It’s doubtable that Aphex Twin fans will find this release disappointing given his recent, short hiatus. It’s not only a clear representation of his acute ability to experiment and push boundaries, but a satisfying progression from previous releases.
The cacophony of convoluted, complex rhythm is satisfying, even if the melodic side isn’t focussed on as much. The percussive detail is impressive, and could only come from an artist with such precision as Aphex Twin.