EP: Come to Daddy
Artist: Aphex Twin
Label: Warp Records
Summary: Sometimes beautiful, sometimes bizarre. Very complex rhythms.
This mini album is probably a good introduction - and warning - to
anyone who wants to give Aphex Twin's music a listen. It combines
the two Come to Daddy singles onto a single CD or double record (even
though it looks like it would have fit on a single record), providing
a diverse mixture of Aphex Twin's work.
The first track, Come to Daddy, Pappy Mix, sounds more like Atari
Teenage Riot than anyone else. I can only describe it as someone
shouting disturbing phrases again and again, set to the sound of a
complex and constantly changing breakbeat, someone playing distorted
fifth chords on a synthesiser and someone else making balloon animals.
In case that was too friendly sounding, the bridge is made up of a
tortured scream. Yet somehow, this song is actually catchy and fun.
It's more than likely poking fun at songs like The Prodigy's
Firestarter, but sounds as if it could just as easily be a sincere
attempt at writing a song in the same kind of style. Either way,
it works well as a noisy yet catchy song in its own right.
After the opening song, your ears are thankfully given a rest. Flim
combines a beautiful melody and arpeggios with another complex
drumbeat that must have been painstakingly programmed in. Strings
then fade in to complete the mix, making it somehow even better.
The percussion sometimes sounds like it was influenced by a geiger
counter, but all the parts of this piece of music work together brilliantly.
The next song is clearly not a remix at all (none of the so-called
Come to Daddy remixes are remotely alike). Come to Daddy, Little
Lord Faulteroy Mix, is the first funny song on the disc, although
whether it's funny as in humorous or just plain weird is up to the
listener to decide. It starts off with an buzzing noise, presumably
just to annoy the listener, which soon gives way to actual music.
A playful drumbeat and slightly odd melody accompany what sounds
like a kid insulting someone and making croaking noises with his
voice. The song in general is either a funny or scary oddity,
depending on your point of view.
Bucephalus Bouncing Ball is the kind of original thinking that
probably got Aphex Twin the respect he has today. To start with,
it's just a rhythm played on various morphing timbres, but it's an
unusual rhythm that manages to sustain interest on its own and
features such unfamiliar sounds that I can't even imagine what
equipment it could possibly have been composed or performed on.
Presumably it makes use of a modular synthesiser, because I can't
imagine much else that offers a musician the freedom to make such
unconventional electronic music.
A minute and a half later, melodies and harmonies join the mix.
These bring the listener slightly closer to the familiar territory
of contemporary music, but not much closer. This is the kind of
music that you hate at first, but which slowly grows on you.
After another minute and a half, Bucephalus Bouncing Ball completely
loses it, degenerating into what sounds like Aphex Twin mucking
around with dials, interspersed with noise. There's a good reason
why Aphex Twin may be the first commercial artist to sneak a picture
into a piece of his music using Fourier transforms: his music is so
off-the-wall that he can occasionally include a snippet of raw data
without it sticking out like a sore thumb.
To Cure a Weakling Child, Contour Regard is very loosely based on
the original To Cure a Weakling Child, from the (slightly shorter)
Richard D. James Album. It doesn't really contain anything interesting
in my opinion, and even the original song wasn't exactly the best
one on the album.
Funny Little Man is the other funny song. It has an odd backing,
and someone taunting a "funny little man" in between making weird
noises with his voice. It's more like listening to Eric Cartman
from South Park than listening to an actual song.
Come to Daddy, Mummy Mix, starts off with Aphex Twin's mother talking
to him, accompanied by more complex, synthetic percussion. Her voice
soon gets mutilated before the music turns sinister and features
what sounds like a baby trying to talk, only pitched. Most of this
piece of music lacks rhythm, melody and harmony enough to count as
noise in my book, occasionally interspersed with even harsher noise
or the occasional tune. On the bright side, anyone who manages to
listen to it all the way through is applauded for their efforts,
until the applause's resolution or sample frequency is reduced so
much that it also degenerates into noise.
It is with great relief that the last track, IZ-US, turns out to
center around a bittersweet melody, backed up by pads for the most
part, and featuring slightly less elaborate rhythms. In my opinion
this is one of the pieces of music with which Aphex Twin gets the
balance just right, still standing out above most contemporary
electronic music yet also being accessible.
In all, this mini album is a good example of the versatility of Aphex
Twin's work: it includes the loud yet catchy (Come to Daddy), the
beautiful (Flim and IZ-US), the original (Bucephalus Bouncing Ball),
the downright weird and the just plain noise.
Still, I can't help thinking that just Come to Daddy, Flim and IZ-US
would have made a very nice single.