On today’s Unsung Heroes, we head towards EDM’s roots with one of the most influential Electronic musical artists of our time. Richard David James, otherwise known by his legendary moniker, Aphex Twin, is considered by some to be the undisputed king of Electronic Music, due to his vastly intricate, innovative productions and often unmatched creative processes in his tracks. His productions are not associated with the EDM scene at the time of the 1990’s, but leans more towards the side of the Avant-Garde of Post-Modernism, with influences by musicians such as John Cage and Erik Satie. Not deterred by genre locking philosophies, Aphex Twin has been a host to many different genres of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music [as coined in the early 1990’s]) including Ambient, Breakcore and Acid Techno. In 2001, James released the highly anticipated Drukqs album, which was again, completely different from anything that he had wrote at the time. In this album, he went back to his roots to Cornwall, as all of his track titles are in Cornish. Vordhosbn, which means ‘Sailboat‘, is meticulous and grand in design, with a technical skill that is almost untouchable to any other producer out there.
Just by listening to the chords in the beginning could symbolize a foray in Ambient, a subtle nod to his works of old. But all artists have to evolve and the melodies is where the similarities stop. Instead, Aphex Twin gives us an overload of sensory integration with his unique sound of Breakbeat and Fidget-like rhythms feverishly playing unorthodox rhythms and sounds. No percussive hit is ever on the beat and the sense of randomness throughout the track gives it a distinct charm found in no other. Hardly the refined sounds of today, Aphex Twin gets down and gritty with his sounds, with each hit a new and original sound that sends your ears on a visceral journey. Usually, the rhythmic aspect of a track is there to support the melody, but this time, the roles are reversed, showcasing Aphex Twin‘s carefully orchestrated glitches and hits. Vordhosbn is a melodic and rhythmic journey into the confines of his mind, and he utilizes this template as a canvas in which to paint a picture of his sailboats, with a strange yet wonderful method of styles and colors to please the ears. Nothing more can be said, just listen.
The most incredible thing about this specific tune (and the whole album in general) is how James was able to create such unique sounds under such limited resources. EDM was still in its childhood stage throughout the 90’s and computer generated noises were not easy to come by. While anyone now can pick up programs such as FL Studio or Abelton and create great tracks, it was hard, if not impossible to create tracks without a deep, extensive background in computer programming. Each glitch, each sound and each rhythm had to have been carefully placed in detail and judging by the sheer complexity in which the track presents itself, he had to have skill and a knack for musical talent to create the masterpiece of Vordhosbn. And even though it doesn’t have the polish that tracks of EDM has now, it has 3 distinct things that many tracks do not: Love, Patience and Dedication. With many tunes today that follow the same template as everyone else, Aphex Twin was/is an innovator and bravely created his own path to project his musical understandings in a world where music needed a new direction. Vordhosbn is only available as part of the whole album, so click on the link below and get a hold on one of the greatest releases of IDM today.
Keep the music alive. -Q
Unsung Heroes is a weekly segment where we take a look back at an amazing production and bring it back into the light for older and newer fans alike. These tracks were often overlooked, overshadowed by a huge release or are just not that well known to the public here in America. Here, you can find all the hidden gems in many genres and find a new favorite track (or another tool/weapon for aspiring DJ’s).