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"I'm just some irritating, lying, ginger kid from Cornwall who should have been locked up in some youth detention centre. I just managed to escape and blag it into music."—Aphex Twin
Richard D. James (b. 1971), better known as Aphex Twin, is an Irish-born electronic artist and founder of the Rephlex Records label. He currently resides in Cornwall, England and is highly known for his innovations in the genre, his experimental, Genre Busting/Genre Roulette songs and his love of using Blatant Lies in interviews for fun. He started making music at the age of 11 by tinkering with one of his home computers and hasn't looked back ever since. His first successful album was Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which was released on February 12, 1992 and received overwhelming praise from critics after some years of false starts, setting James on the path to electronic music fame.
While he is known in some ways as a Trope Maker for ambient techno thanks to the aforementioned SAW 85-92, his material is very diverse and frequently employs pseudonyms, ranging from sad, beautiful Lonely Piano Pieces (most of them on Drukqs), ear-bleeding dance music (...I Care Because You Do), acid techno (his early AFX/Caustic Window material) and his trademark combination of upbeat melodies with complicated beats (Richard D. James Album, Drukqs).
Under Aphex Twin
- Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)
- Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)
- ...I Care Because You Do (1995)
- Melodies From Mars (1995) (unreleased; however, Richard has suggested in a recent interview that he is remaking it and planning an official release)
- Richard D. James Album (1996)
- Drukqs (2001)
- Digeridoo (1992)
- Xylem Tube (1992)
- On (1993)
- Ventolin (1995)
- Donkey Rhubarb (1995)
- Girl/Boy (1996)
- Come to Daddy (1997)
- Windowlicker (1999)
- Analord 10 (2005)
- Classics (1994)
- 51/13: Aphex Singles Collection (1996)
- 26 Mixes for Cash (2003)
- Chosen Lords (2006)
- Analogue Bubblebath (1991)
- Analogue Bubblebath 2 (1991)
- Analogue Bubblebath 3 (1992)
- Analogue Bubblebath 4 (1994)
- Analogue Bubblebath 5 (1995)
- Hangable Auto Bulb EP (1995)
- Hangable Auto Bulb EP 2 (1995)
- Analogue Bubblebath 3.1 (1997)
- Smojphace EP (2003)
- Analords 1-9, 11 (2005)
- AFX / LFO|AFX / LFO split 12" (2005)
- Hangable Auto Bulb (1995 and 2005 re-release)
- Chosen Lords (2006)
- 2 Remixes by AFX (2001)
Under Caustic Window
- Untitled (1994) (unreleased)
- Joyrex J4 EP (1992)
- Joyrex J5 EP (1992)
- Joyrex J9ii (1993)
- Joyrex J9i (1993)
- Compilation (1998)
Under misc. aliases
As Bradley Strider
- Bradley's Beat (1991)
- Bradley's Robot (1993)
- Gak (1994)
As Green Calx
- Green Calx (1993) (unreleased)
As Polygon Window
- Surfing on Sine Waves (1993)
- Quoth (1993)
- Pac-Man (1992)
- Q-Chastic EP (1992) (unreleased)
- Mike (µ-ziq) & Rich:
- Expert Knob Twiddlers (1996)
Tropes present in Aphex Twin's works:
- Affectionate Parody: The cover art for Mike & Rich parodies the box art for the Milton Bradley game Downfall.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick.
- Consider the lyrics to the song "Milkman", sung in a odd monotone-yet-cheerful jingle.
I wish the milkman would deliver my milk in the morning,
I wish the milkman would deliver my milk when I'm yawning,
I would like some milk from the milkman's wife's tits...
- A more jarring version appears on "Funny Little Man." The song proper isn't all that bad, assuming you don't mind that a pitched-up, autotuned James sounds exactly like Rolf on acid, but what follows is a Plaintalk program threatening to sodomize, castrate, and chew on the penis of the listener.
- Blatant Lies: Richard's well known for deliberately misleading both the press and his fans with very bizarre lies. He has claimed, amongst other things, to sleep only around 3 hours a night, as well as the ownership of a large square building with no windows in the middle of a South London roundabout (it actually contains a power transformer).
- Body Horror: It would be easier to list examples of his videos that don't invoke this trope.
- Butter Face: Used infamously in "Windowlicker."
- Careful with That Axe: All we can say about "Come To Daddy, Pappy Mix" is that Richard's got quite a larynx on him.
- Child Prodigy: At age 11, Richard tinkered around with a Sinclair ZX81 computer and caused it to produce sound, even though they lack sound hardware.
- However, he didn't gain his skills as a musician until later on, as the GAK demos prove.
- Creator Backlash: Richard describes "Come to Daddy" as an intentionally ridiculous "death metal jingle" he wrote as a joke while pissed, and admitted to being uncomfortable with the amount of attention it received.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The first half of the "Windowlicker" video.
- Dedication: The name Aphex Twin is dedicated to his older brother, also named Richard D. James, who died during childbirth.
- Digital Head Swap: The video for "Windowlicker" put his bearded face on several bikini-clad girls.
- Easter Egg: Richard's face appears in the spectrograph at the end of [Equation.] It's really cool and really disturbing at the same time.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: "Monkey Drummer", a music video made by Chris Cunningham for the song "Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michael's Mount".
- Everything's Worse with Bears: The 'Donkey Rhubarb' video
- Fan Disservice: The music video of "Windowlicker" has the girls' faces transforming into that of Richard's face and a really hideous woman near the end.
- Not just Richard's face, but with his trademark Slasher Smile.
- Foreign Language Title: Many of the songs on Drukqs are written in Cornish. "Jynweythek" (Electronic Machine), "hy a Scullyas lyf a dhagrow" (She Spilled My Pint), and "Vordhosbn" (Sailboat) are a few examples.
- Cymru is Welsh for Wales.
- Humanoid Abomination: How Richard D, James often likes to portray himself and others in his videos. In Windowlicker, for example he seems to have the ability to transform others into 'clones' of himself.
- The windowlicker from "Windowlicker" full stop.
- The screaming man from "Come To Daddy" gets an honorable mention as well.
- I Am the Band
- Idiosyncratic Song Naming: All tracks on Analord 8, 9, and 11 are titled after or resemble computer virus names (leading to catchy titles such as "PWSteal.Ldpinch.D" and "W32.Aphex@mm," among others), supposedly to stop would-be torrenters from downloading them.
- I Have Many Names: Aphex Twin, AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Caustic Window, DJ Smojphace, GAK, Martin Tressider, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Pritchad G. Kraymes, Prichard D. Jams, Q-Chastic, Tahnaiya Russell, The Dice Man, and Soit P.P.
- He's also thought to be The Tuss, and, by extension, both Brian and Karen Tregaskin
- In Name Only: Several (but not all) of his "remixes" are actually original works.
- Insistent Terminology: He is one of many IDM musicians who insist it be called Braindance, on the grounds that the term "Intelligent Dance Music" has elitist connotations.
- Jerkass: There are a variety of stories, both confirmed and unconfirmed, about Richard being rude or spiteful to people.
- When requested to remix a song for Madonna, he said that he would only agree if she were to portray herself as a pig.
- When a representative for the band The Lemonheads came to his house one morning asking for the remix he was commissioned to do, he went to his studio, ripped a random song which was irrelevant to the song he was requested to do, and gave it to him for in exchange for thousands of dollars. Supposedly, this was due to Aphex completely forgetting about the remix he was commissioned to do, but apparently, he didn't demand money.
- He looks and acts incredibly annoyed on several interviews.
- Oddly enough, when there was a snafu regarding The Lonely Island sampling Avril 14th for "Iran (So Far Away)", Aphex Twin didn't mind and was "cool" about the whole thing. His label, however, wasn't.
- On the other hand, he once criticized the desciption of his music as "Intelligent Dance Music", as it implied everyone else's music was stupid, before joking it was "really nasty" to everyone else's music.
- Kubrick Stare: Richard sure likes to show off his creepy smile. The promotional video for 26 Mixes for Cash compiles some his unsettling promotional photos.
- Light Is Not Good: In 'Windowlicker', James' clothes, umbrella and limo are stark white.
- Loudness War: SAW 85-92 was remastered in 2008.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Once again, "Milkman", which, despite the lyrics, has a melody reminiscent of children's music.
- Unless counting the Fan Video by David Firth.
- Mood Whiplash: Lyrical Dissonance aside, "Milkman" has a happy, peaceful feel to it. However, at the very beginning of the song, James's voice can be heard unintelligibly mumbling an anecdote about gouging a kid's eye out with his erect penis.
- Nightmare Face: Hellooooooo, I Care Because You Do. Oh, and let's not forget the face near the end of Windowlicker. The fact that it was based on an H.R. Giger sketch certainly helps.
- Notable Music Videos: When Chris Cunningham's involved...
- Overly Long Gag: Richard's limo in the Windowlicker video.
- Punny Name: Drukqs was thought to be pronounced "drug use". Richard denies this and says that it's just a word he made up.
- Sampling: "Nannou" is composed entirely of wind-up music box samples, and that's just one example.
- Self-Deprecation: He once described himself in an interview as "some irritating, lying, ginger kid from Cornwall who should have been locked up in some youth detention centre".
- Self-Titled Album: The Richard D. James Album.
- Shout-Out: On a rerelease of Surfing on S Ine Waves, Richard included a song called "Redurth School", a school he went to when he was a child.
- Slasher Smile: Good lord...
- Surreal Music Video: On.
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: "Flim" and "Avril 14th".
- Something Completely Different: The former is especially so, given the recording it appeared on and the track it appeared directly after.
- Take That: The music video for "Windowlicker" parodies rap music videos..
- Tastes Like Purple: Richard is allegedly synesthetic. He claims to have used it as an inspiration for Selected Ambient Works Volume II.
- Teen Genius: He was already producing music at age 12. Selected Ambient Works 85-92 was recorded during those years, which means he was making his first album at the ripe old age of 13.
- Twenty Minutes With Jerks: The beginning of 'Windowlicker'. Then Richard D. James shows up. It Got Worse.
- The Unpronounceable: The "titles" on most of the Selected Ambient Works Volume II tracks are photographs rather than words.
- It didn't stop people from giving them names, of course. The first three are known as "Cliffs", "Radiator", and "Rhubarb", for example.
- Long Title: Track 2 on the Windowlicker EP has, as a title, an incredibly long mathematical equation.
- Word Puree Title: Usually subverted (they're Cornish words, acronyms, names of computer viruses, et cetera...)