Music Reviews
26 Mixes For Cash

Aphex Twin 26 Mixes For Cash

(Warp) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

It starts way back in 1990 with Mescalinum United's, appropriately named, We Have Arrived, super heavy rave equipped with beats which sound not unlike the God Thor let loose in a scrap yard. From this uncompromising beginning, it traverses thirteen years of innovation, over a decade of mixes. And there is the title, typical of the record's architect, suggesting that what follows is the compromising of ideals - a red herring that, for what this double CD contains are not merely changes cosmetic to themes sonic, they are complete deconstructions of them, the Twin reducing that to rubble, which he will rebuild gloriously, high into the sky. The bigger the artists requesting a sprinkle of his magic dust, and consequently, the bigger the pot of filthy lucre at stake, the more brutally Richard D James chops up their offering. One can picture the smirk on his face as he hands the completed piece back to its original owner, unrecognizable, now, from that which they composed.

Take the two Nine Inch Nails tracks as a case in point. On them, the Twin has waved his magic wand and poof! Trent Reznor is gone - the only sad thing is that this aural vanishing could not have been of a more corporeal nature - vanished, nowhere to be heard. And to dramatic effect, At the Heart of it all is probably the highlight of the entire offering, the sound of God's fury in the massive, portentous, clunking beats, and hissing sounds - such as from huge valves releasing vast pressures, whilst at the same time elegiac in the humming and the burring. GIGANTIC!

Richard D James has far more respect for the work of his mates on Warp and Rephlex than for any of the big name stars who bang down his door, wads of cash in hand, demanding he apply the white heat of his technology in the direction of their cred. A fact evidenced by the relative tenderness he applies when treating the brilliant DMX Krew's, You Can't Hide Your Love, humorous, mock soul tunefulness with a beating electronic heart (Sample lyric: 'Two hearts can't be wrong') and Baby Ford's excellent, Normal.

There is the odd disappointment however, for example Phillip Glass' and David Bowie's Heroes. Something of such great promise which, owing to absurd time constraints (James had four hours to complete the mix), emerged as nothing more than a vaguely pleasing, swirling, syncopated, symphony. And there are rare occasions where the Twin lets the radical drift, like Curve's, Falling Free, a mix of underwhelming generic beats and ambient vocals.

But these are the merest of quibbles where the whole is so fresh, so intricate, so ingenious, and so moving. Sweet like the great techno Wurlitzer in the sky (Gentle People, Journey); Soothing, lush, watery, in utero dreams, of pure amniotic ambience (Jesus Jones, Zero's and One's); Brutal German electro (Die Fantastischen Vier, Krieger); Blitzkrieg beats (Phillip Boa and the Voodoo Club, Deep in Velvet); cut and paste magic on a twisted classic (Windowlicker, Acid Edit)...

...Essentially a record of sheer genius and incredible depths, twenty-six mixes courtesy our own generation's Ludwig Van.