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Aphex Twin - 26 Mixes for Cash

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Artist: Aphex Twin

Album: 26 Mixes for Cash

Label: Warp

Review date: Mar. 31, 2003

Falling Back on some Favorites

With a flurry of hyperactive beats and an ear for catchy, minimalist melodies, Aphex Twin, born Richard D. James, has established himself as both one of the most innovative and frustrating electronic artists. Equal parts geeky recluse and ego-centric mad scientist, the Brit composer quickly became a critic’s darling and household name in the IDM community. Yet, always purposefully resisting classification, James jumped styles with each release, creating a highly varied, if shockingly uneven catalog of cerebral dance music.

With the trio of records he recorded in the mid-90s, I Care Because You Do, Richard D. James Album and Come to Daddy, James seemed to finally hit his stride. His forward-thinking tunes floated along on top of a playful pop sheen that brought the artist a newfound crossover appeal. However, after a long silence, Aphex’s 2001 comeback disc Drukqs was a massive disappointment. A bloated double-disc affair, Drukqs flopped hard, sending many listeners scurrying for the sounds of similar artists.

26 Mixes for Cash, the Twin’s latest effort is another sprawling, if far less disjointed, affair. Two discs packed with – you guessed it – mixes that Aphex has produced during his career, the set is an intriguing, mostly downtempo collection. Each disc journeys through the years, from James’ early acid-drenched club cuts to his later experimentalism. However, the bulk of the set covers tunes completed during the mid ’90s.

James has commented that he only enjoys reworking songs that he dislikes. Whether this is the case or not with these two dozen plus tracks, the sheer variety of source material is commendable. Nine Inch Nails, German rockers Die Fantastischen Vier, Jesus Jones, Philip Glass and Curve all get cut up alongside more traditional dance artists such as Seefeel and Saint Etienne.

As a remixer, James’ greatest talent has always been making a galaxy of different tunes sound all his own, and he is in fine form here. While not entirely cohesive, the tracks on each disc each bear an unmistakable Aphex Twin touch. Disc One opens with the ethereal ambiance of Seefeel’s “Time To Find Me.” Elsewhere, James makes a beautiful, orchestral mess out of the Philip Glass version of Bowie’s “Heroes,” and turns Nav Katze’s “Change” into a haunting chill-out trip fest. For Nine Inch Nails’ “The Beauty of Being Numb Section B,” he juxtaposes belching bass and metallic slaps against a purely melancholic melody.

Disc Two features a similar batch of tunes, yet with an emphasis on more recent material. Phillip Boa & The Voodoo Club’s “Deep In Velvet” takes the original vocal and attacks it with layers of frantic beats. “Remix By AFX” blends house blips with crazed effects, sucking all normalcy out of what surely started as a rave-happy club cut. Even British loungers Mike Flowers Pops get turned into futuristic space-groove courtesy of a rattling snare buzz and jumpy melody. On top of all this, unreleased versions of the 1999 single “Windowlicker” and classic ambient piece “SAW 2 CD 1 TRK 1” give completists a reason to swoon.

Though 26 Mixes for Cash is too lean on the new material to warrant a renewed elation, it is a solid collection of genre bending electronica. From cut to cut, the album proves that while having Aphex’s name on a remix CD may not be a gold seal, it is a certain sign that something entirely unique lies inside.

By Ethan Covey

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