February 18th-Aphex Twin Peel Sessions 1992 and Live at Sheffield Hallam 1993

The Internet can for music fans be a bit like a Kinder Egg full of little surprises and rather delicious. This week’s review comes from a surprise Aphex Twin release on Paul Woolford’s, aka Special Request, SoundCloud.

The upload, which Woodford added on April 21st and may only survive for a short period of time, is a rare and beautiful thing. Kicking off with a handful of tracks from a Peel Session Aphex Twin did in 1992 the majestic brilliance of Richard D James is apparent immediately. With Peel himself sounding over-whelmed and blown apart by what he is hearing.

Part of the brilliance of Aphex Twin has always been the fine balance between beauty and aggression that essence that he is treading on a narrow line between innocence and something much darker. It is a sound and a trick, which those inspired by James often attempt to imitate and nearly always fall short of. This essential part of Aphex Twin’s brilliance is on show in the Peel sessions, which combine synth-y other worldliness with aggressive breaks and dark vocal samples.

The stand out track on show in the Peel Sessions is Blue Calx, which first appeared on Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 and has gone on to become a firm favourite with fans of James. It is performed staggeringly well during the Peel sessions and highlights the sensational beauty which can be found when Aphex Twin plays to the simplest components of electronic music.

The second half of Woolford’s upload comes from a live recording of Aphex Twin at Sheffield Hallam University, which was made for a Pete Tong Essential Selection in 1993. This later part really sees James turn up the aggression.  Things start off slowly before the bass and breaks are cranked up to a euphoric and complex level that one can only imagine drove everyone in attendance wild.

Despite the fact that this recording was made live in 1993 nothing about it feels dated. So often with recordings from the early UK rave scene the sound and elements feel sadly dated but with James’ impressive live performance this is not a problem. The sound remains fresh, the breaks still feel futuristic and the bass remains heavy yet exploratory. Perhaps this is one of the greatest compliments which can be paid to the work of Aphex Twin, it continues to feel timeless, there is little that has been produced quite like it and that continues to be the case.

These live recordings are nothing short of brilliant and exciting and well worth checking out if only to hear one of the greatest producers in the infancy of his career. Thank you Internet. Thank you Paul Woolford.



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