Computer Controlled Acoustic Instrumentals pt 2 EP
5 out of 10
By Carter Santini ’15
Aphex Twin’s “Computer Controlled Acoustic Instrumentals pt 2 EP” won best new music from review site Pitchfork in January.
Apex Twin was one of the founders of a genre of techno called “Acid” that focuses on ambient sounds and off-beats. Think of this genre as electronic jazz with a focus on repetitive beats and rhythms.
Acid is a niche genre, but every so often I get in the mood for it, so I was excited. That excitement quickly turned into crestfallen disappointment.
My first complaint is that the album focuses on being weird for the sake of publicity. Take the title of the album itself; there is no part one to this album, it’s not acoustic and it’s not an EP.
One could argue that because it’s digitally produced it’s computer controlled, but that’s a stretch.
The important word is instrumentals. It’s entirely instrumentals and they’re very weird.
The song names look like raw computer files, some names include “diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13” and “hat 2b 2012b.” It’s strange and it doesn’t feel like it serves a purpose, it just makes it harder to remember the names of songs I like.
That’s a staple for Aphex Twin it’s more of a complaint with the artist as a whole rather than this album.
On to the part that really matters, the music. The songs have me at some points feeling impressed, nostalgic or even uninspired.
Only about two-thirds of the songs are real fully constructed songs. Some songs are just instrument samples “Snar2” is just a looping snared drum.
The songs that are real songs sound like they came out of a creepy 1980’s video game. By itself not a bad thing, but it leads to every song having the same feel.
The percussion is the most enjoyable part of the album. The drums are deep, powerful and complex.
Aphex Twin knows how to play with space; this creates cool soundscapes but is often overused to an extreme causing the songs to feel empty.
The songs feel poorly mixed very few times is there a grooving bassline. The songs get muddled with a lot of mid sounds.
That’s the most disappointing part of the album; acid basslines are filled with effects that are only found in the genre, so to get rid of those is a real shame.
Only one song made me feel like I was really listening to an Aphex Twin album. “piano un10 it happened” is a beautiful composition and makes me wish they had more of that on the album.
I struggle to rate this album lower because part of me feels like maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe the lack of melodies and the strange chords are an art I’m incapable of realizing.
I don’t want to feel condescended by my music choice though.
I think this music does have a place. It’s not driving music or party music. But maybe late at night reading an intense novel this could be the perfect album.