The twisted musical magician known variouly as Aphex Twin, AFX, Power Pill, Caustic Window and a slew of other monikers has released his first original full-length album in five years. And, thankfully, Chosen Lords should assure fans disappointed with his 2001 offering, drukqs, that he's back on form.
The album has its beginnings last year, when Aphex Twin (real name Richard D. James) announced the Analord series, for which he would release a vinyl-only EP every month for a year. Of the 40-something tracks that resulted, James chose 10 for this release, hence the title.
The series sees James return to his earlier acid techno sound. What defines this album, as with much of his best work, is his ability to experiment without getting carried away. There's subtlety and melody to even his most freaky tracks. Complementing this is his ability to shock. Crying in Your Face starts with a deep and tuneful bassline, but just when you soften to the rhythm, AFX breaks the beat and reminds you who you're dealing with.
The tracks are dreamy - you won't be floating in fluffy pink clouds, but you might have visions of sinister underwater realms and peculiar alien civilisations. Fenix Funk 5 is a multi-layered cascade of sound. Boxing Day is a tinkling, squelchy ambient techno track. Cilonen, like Crying in Your Face and evocative closing track XMD 5a, hits you in the belly and stirs feelings you can't quite put into words.
These buzzing, bleeping, bass-ridden tracks are often unsettling, but from a man who has admitted that he lies in interviews, hides photos of his face on his albums that can be seen only with spectral analysis and owns a Russian submarine, you shouldn't expect paint by numbers.