29 September 2014

Queen - Live At The Rainbow '74

A while ago, we did a blog about the Best Live Album that was available at the time.  At the time, the Queen album that made the list was 'Live Killers' which was picked by Mr Chaney (the biggest Queen fan on the blog team).  He has always said that Queen live were one of the best acts, especially during their early period and that it was criminal that there was not an album from their early period.  Well, his wishes have granted in 2014 with the release of 'Live At The Rainbow '74'.  This album is the recording of shows that took place defunct live venue The Rainbow Theatre (which is not a Pentecostal Church) in London.  The main set (recorded in November of 1974) was from a show that was part of their Sheer Heart Attack tour (the other set which forms part of the deluxe set) is from the previous Queen II tour recorded in the March of the same year.  For this blog I will just being reviewing the November show (and asking Mr Richardson to review the March one under a separate blog).  Now, at this point there was no Bohemian Rhapsody, the ballads were few and far between, they were a full on rock band and they were getting an incredible reputation on the live circuit.  Will this album be a brilliant representation of that period for them?

Starting the show is "Procession" which is the general introduction track building to the band starting the show, which gives way to the first proper track "Now I'm Here".  This was off the 'Sheer Heart Attack' and is now considered to be one of their classic songs.  The band sounds as if they were on fire at this point of their career, you cannot fake that sort of confidence and it comes across in their performance.  "Ogre Battle" is the next song, a Mercury penned number which was off 'Queen II' and starts with a brilliant riff that just keeps giving.  The lyrics are typical Mercury fantasy with a touch of flair that was his signature to any piece he created.  Following on "Father To Son" which is another 'Queen II' number which was written by Mr B May, it has a much more melodic feeling than "Ogre Battle".  Another May number is "White Queen (As It Began)" that follows on and takes the mood down another notch, but not the performance.  The stunning craftsmanship of the number is beautiful on this song and is up there with any of Mercury's fantasy numbers. It is a big fantasy number for me and a great performance of one of my favourite early Queen numbers.  "Flick Of The Wrist" is next and brings the hard rock numbers and I am sure the innuendo of the title is on purpose.  Another fantastic number that would have had the faithful in raptor, the song was taken from their latest album of the time 'Sheer Heart Attack".

Next is a melody of four songs which starts with "In The Lap Of The Gods", followed by "Killer Queen", "The March Of The Black Queen" and "Bring Back The Leroy Brown".  Three of the tracks - "In The Lap Of The Gods", "Killer Queen" and "Bring Back The Leroy Brown" were all off 'Sheer Heart Attack' and "The March Of The Black Queen" is from 'Queen II'.  All the songs are played incredibly well and it is a quick way to get as many of your songs on the set as possible.  The best of the sections is "The March Of The Black Queen" for me, Queen when they are in full rock mode were a band that were hard to beat, it was not all the radio hits and it just goes to show what a powerful unit they once were.  Next is "Son & Daughter" from their eponymous debut album, again you sometimes forget that Queen were this full on rock band, but with shows like this (plus the early albums) you get a feel to what they used to be.  As part of the song (but billed as a separate track)  you also get this huge guitar solo from Mr May that showcases the talent that he has when he is not making songs about badgers (sorry Brian, I know your heart is there for your cause; but that song to stop the badger cull was awful).

Next is "Keep Yourself Alive" which is split into three sections - the main song, a Rodger Taylor solo and then a reprise of "Keep Yourself Alive".  When the song (which had Son & Daughter as the b-side) was first released in to the world, it was largely ignored.  But with the heavy bass feeling and the power of the number, it is surprising that it was ignored at the time.  I will admit that I tuned out a bit during the drum solo - I always do when a band starts one at shows that I got to see now.  But no matter what you feeling towards the solo are, you would be hard pushed to deny that Mr Taylor was not a fantastic drummer.  Next is "Seven Seas Of Rhye" from their first album again, it is a song which I always thought hinted towards some of their future numbers.  Not a personal favourite of mine, but it is one that most of the Queen faithful seem to love.  But the next song, oh the next song which was taken from 'Sheer Heart Attack' is called "Stone Cold Crazy".  This song is one of the heaviest in Queen's back catalogue and this version is particularly stunning.  

"Liar" is the next song on the album which is another of the tracks from "Queen"; it has one of those riffs and solos that go on forever.  The song is also much longer on this version then the single or album versions that were released by the band beforehand.  Ending the main set is "In The Lap Of The Gods.....Revisited" and it is brilliant to hear one of my most favourite songs in such a fashion.  When it was a new number and the crowd were still getting used to it.  After this, the band leaves the stage to come back on to do some covers and one original - "Big Spender", "Modern Times Rock 'N' Roll", "Jail House Rock" and ending with the traditional "God Save The Queen".  The quartet of numbers makes for a fast pace and energetic ending to the set.

As a live documentary of a band at the height of their live powers, this is a really good release.  Three albums into their career, they were just about to start that roll which would have 'A Night At The Opera', 'A Day At The Races' and 'News Of The World' coming after 'Sheer Heart Attack'.  The confidence from shows like this would make those albums the classic releases.  Without spoiling the next part of this review, the show from early in the year also showed a lot of promise as well.  If you are going to get any version of this album, I would go for the deluxe addition to be honest.  However, he is the crux of the matter - is it better than 'Killer Queen' which was taken from the 'Jazz' period of the band's history?  For me, I would have to say....maybe.  I've not lived with 'Live At The Rainbow '74' long enough to make that decision right away.  I'll say this though; if initial impressions are anything to go by, it just might end up being THE Queen live album.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - In The Lap Of The Gods....Revisited

You can purchase one of the versions of the album from Amazon via this link

You can visit the Queen website here

You can listen to the November show here on Spotify (but you can also find the version with the show from earlier in the year on Spotify as well)

For our Deezer users, here is a link to the album as well

28 September 2014

Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Well we were all expecting a new Radiohead album, so this release has took a lot of people by surprise.  Mr Yorke is already known for trying to release music to his fans via alternative methods.  For instant when they first released 'In Rainbows' via the "pay what you want method", or 'King Of Limbs' with a newspaper edition.  He is also famous for taking any of his solo work off Spotify and other streaming serves due to the pitiful amount that the artists get for each play.  That is understandable and honourable in many ways.  It can also sound a bit aloof for people who cannot afford to get albums all the time and the prices sometimes tend to be a little bit pricey.  But on this one, he has come with another idea to side step conventional methods and tries something new.  This time using BitTorrent technology for the price of $6 (in the UK, this will work out around £3.90) for the digital download of the album.  There is also an option to purchase the album on vinyl, with the added choice of downloading the opening track with video for free.  The message with the album is that they are trying to find get the music to people without have to go via a label medium (or as the statement says 'bypassing the self elected gate-keepers'.  Now this is a better statement of intent than the recent U2 release when it was forced onto everyone's iTunes account, there is the choice element for this surprise release.  Well, let's see what the album sounds like?

Heads up first, anyone expecting guitars and indie might want to steer clear; with that out of the way, time for the music itself.  The opening track is called "A Brain In A Bottle" which instantly brings to mind the 'Kid A' era of Radiohead. It is an interest piece of electronica which starts with a looping bass that slips from side to side of your speakers, then the drums are introduced to the mix, add a few other noises, Mr Yorke's high-end vocals and various effects on his notes to create a rather strange and abstract piece.  Whilst there is a lot of stuff happening, it all feels minimalist and almost empty in places.  "Guess Again!" is the second track, this piece centres on a strange and off-key piano loop and clapping drums.  There is still a cold feeling coming from the music, but it is still interesting to say the least.  Next is "Interference" which is just under three minutes of cold, calculating minimalist trance noise; it is another empty piece of noise that drifts by and whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with it, there is also nothing that is making me shiver with anticipation at the thought of listening to it again.  The fourth track is called "The Mother Lobe" is the first track that makes the whole minimalist, random indie noises mix together to form an interesting and exciting number.  This may have something to do the fact that it brings some bass being brought to the forefront, which works a lot better than when it has been kept to the side.  Out of all of the songs on the album, this one is the track of the album.

Next is "Truth Ray", which sounds like a trance dream heading towards the end of the road.  The empty haunting dream like feeling has returned to the album at this point and it almost feels like pan pipes in places.  Like other songs album, it is well played but incredibly cold and empty.  "There Is No Ice (For My Drink)" follows on and the beginning sounds a bit like those pipes that were used on the musical 'Stomp' and whilst it starts with a bit more in the way of vibrations and good noise, it once again feels haunted by this drive to be as quiet as possible so not to disturb the dreamer from the random crazy images of their dreams.  "Pink Section" is the penultimate track of the album and it feels like the space between thoughts has been given a transparent layer of musical clothing, brushed down and pushed into the world to stand awkwardly in the daylight.  It is very reminiscent of the Nine Inch Nails project "Ghosts" in both delivery and feeling.  Ending the album is "Nose Grows Some" which feels like the natural progression of "Pink Section" and ends the album as it started really - with that dream like status of suspense and transport between the dreaming and waking worlds.

As an experiment on alternative forms of releasing your work to the general public, I have to applaud the thought behind it.  If this is the way to deal directly with your public, then I hope it is the start of something special.  I cannot see the difference between this and something like Bandcamp, but I do not work behind the background difference between such sites.  Musically, it is a strange beast this album.  Very much a chill out album in the form of 'Kid A' and as I mentioned against one of the other songs, it does remind me of the Nine Inch Nails album 'Ghosts'.  It is a little too cold, a little too chilled and empty to make the album something you would reach for unless you needed something to nurse you down from some sort of euphoric high.  I know that sometimes you have albums which give their hidden beauty on repeated listenings; this album is not one of those records.  You get it all in one barren delivery.  The emptiness of the music (which is well play) makes this nothing more than an interesting experiment in alternative consumerism.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

Top track - The Mother Lobe

You can purchase the album via an official BitTorrent here set up by Thom Yorke

This is also the only place where you will be able to hear it officially, as Thom Yorke is not a supporter of either Spotify or Deezer; not making any judgement, just stating the fact.

24 September 2014

Izzy Stradlin - Baby Rann (iTunes only single)

You're probably thinking "whuuutttttt...". But yup, this is the latest (at time of blog) single from Izzy Stradlin, a man whose managed to carve out a respectable solo career as well as being known as "the one who wrote the best songs whilst in Guns 'n' Roses". Now whereas that last statement is up for debate, you cannot deny that during those glorious days when he was in the GnR engine room, there was a quality tune or five produced. A lot of his stuff was the no-frills rock the band used to be famous for. Nevereless, that was then and this is now. So, what does the man formerly known as Jeff Isabelle have for us this time?

He has a no-frills rock number about a man whose girlfriend left him and ran to Vietnam. There is something about the family dog in there too, I dunno, it tends to vary as it's one of those songs where the verses are a simple refrain - in this case, the guy's girlfriend running away and the dog - and various stuff about them gets told to us. It's a very simplistic rhyming approach which luckily fits the song well enough in order to get away with it. In fact, the whole thing is very simplistic in terms of music, lyrics, vocals and production. But what to you expect from the guy who - according to Slash's autobiography - wanted to do lead vocals for Velvet Revolver and embark on a club tour? The fact that Straddlin was the first to bail when GnR became a fucking circus says it all (Yes, I know Steven Adler was the first of the 'classic lineup' to leave but he was sacked so it doesn't count in this pretext).

The music is very simplistic with a simple verse riff and chorus over a standard rock drum pattern. There are even traces of a hammond organ as well. It's a good mixture and reminds me of the kind of 70's rock that people who wore flares and flannel shirts that stink of motor oil and reefer would listen to,

It would have been nice to get perhaps a full album of similar material or even an EP but alas, it wasn't to be on this occasion. Still, we've got plenty of time. Hopefully the next Stradlin album will have just those things. In the meantime, listen to this badboy and relax.

5 - I wish I had extra ears to love this more.

Chris J.

This song is available on iTunes.

The Haunted - Exit Wounds

The Haunted are back. Whether this means anything anymore remains to be seen. Personally, I reckon the band stand to win back longtime fans who've been somewhat underwhelmed by everything after One Kill Wonder (Like me) as well as some new ones because, quite frankly, this album is fucking perfect. Before we talk about this quite frankly awesome slice of sonic warfare and late contender for my personal 'album of the year', let's go back in time a bit...

Forming in 1996 after the break-up of At The Gates (a band that most people seem to wank themselves stupid over although I never understood what all the fuss was about, even though I heard Slaughter Of The Soul - an album that may as well be the Holy Grail, Ark Of The Covenant and Spear Of Destiny all rolled into one given the way people talk about it. Yeah, it's a good album but there are better out there IMHO). After a couple of demos, they released the s/t debut. This created a bit of a storm as three of the members had previously been in At The Gates (Guitarist Anders Bjorler and his bassist brother Jonas as well as drumming titan Adrian Erlandsson). Joined by vocalist Pete Dolving and guitarist Patrik Jensen, they released an album which was great. When I first heard it, I thought it was great! It reminded me of when Slayer gave a toss and released quality music - something they haven't done since either 1990, 1994 or 2001 depending on your point of view.

Future releases would receive a mixed reception; partly because of quality issues brought about by personnel changes and the band just not writing as good as they used to. In fact, this band are on par with Soulfly in that you clearly have a talented group of individuals but they just couldn't hit their stride enough to make that one truely classic album, the real stand-out. It's a shame, but there you go.

This album marks the return of vocalist Marco Aro for the first time since 'One Kill Wonder', an album that was alright, I guess. It had 'DOA' on it. Adrian Erlandsson also returns, HUZZAH!!! Marco Aro was previously with Swedish hardcore/thrash mob Face Down who were a favourite of mine back in the day. Their gig at Trillians (A bar in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) is one of my faves due to the awesome pit and stagediving antics! So when he joined The Haunted, I thought this would be cool, especially as previous vocalist Pete Dolving is known as "a bit of a character"...yep.

This came at a good time - thrash metal is popular again, arguably because of those 'retro' thrash bands like Municipal Waste, Bonded By Blood and (dare I say it) the insepid Gama Bomb. Bands who seem to focus on the mid-to-late 80's brand of thrash. The brand that most if not all of the original bands ended up straying from due to the musical stagnation that came about due to oversaturation. It's an extremely short-term genre but at least it got people talking about thrash again. This is where this album comes in - it's a pure thrash album that doesn't need a nostalgia trip to justify itself, it just uses some old fashioned fucking brutality.

Opening with one of those short instrumental pieces (317), it then launches into first proper track (Cutting Teeth) with a great level of ferocity. This is old-school thrash but not in the aforementioned way. The return of Aro is a blessing. The songs on here are all well crafted, and showcase the bands talents for remaining brutal but without sounding too samey. Whilst each song has the basic ingredients of speed and brutality, they manage to vary up the recipies for each meal in this particular banquet. One minute, they're sounding mid-paced and lurching on "All I Have", they then switch it to a beatdown of a song in "Kill The Light". "Trend Killer" is a fucking stormer. Straddling the best parts of punk, hardcore and thrash, it's fucking great! Everything is crafted to the point of perfection - bass is audible next to guitars, drums are pounded and vocals are shouted. But - and here's the thing - the production is perfect. Despite it having been perfected on so many levels, it's not sterile as one would expect. It still retains warmth and power. Like getting a hug from Brian Blessed.

The guitar solos on this album are great too. Managing to sound frantic whilst carrying their point across, they never verge on the distasteful.

When played live, the songs are guaranteed to whip up an awesome mosh-pit. Mind, one does have to question as to why they have released an new album when an At The Gates album is released at the same time? I guess that any shortcomings found within this album will be rectified with ATG and vice-versa. I'll be keeping an open mind on that and will get back to you, but I'd not rule this album out yet.

So, there you go. This album is possibly the finest example of thrash in a long time. I'd recommend it any day of the week.

Top Track: "Trend Killer".

8/10 - Oh now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.

Chris J.

Spotify for album.
Amazon for album.

Yeah, it's on iTunes...

23 September 2014

Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain

Here we go, another descent into the madness that is Cannibal Corpse. Having been going for two decades, this is their thirteenth album. And it's pretty fucking good for what it is - a straight ahead no-frills death metal onslaught. Abandon experimentation all ye who enter here. Quick recap time...

Cannibal Corpse were one of the more notorious bands from the early 90's Florida Death Metal scene due to their disgusting artwork and song titles (Note to self: Don't attend my daughters play group wearing the uncensored TOMB OF THE MUTILATED artwork shirt...). It was also at this time they were a slightly different band in style. Sure, it was still Death Metal but it was a bit sloppy in places. Nowadays (well, ever since 'Vile'), they are way more precision-like, more technical and clinical. It's definately a change that has kept them at the top of the pile for the best part of twenty years or so. George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher is still vocalist and he still sounds awesome. Easily the best Death Metal vocalist on the planet. He can shriek, growl etc while somehow making the words audible. I've no idea how he does it but in a sea of YEEEEEUUUUUURRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH, it's definately commendable.

Opening with some guitar feedback/sustain notes on "High Velocity Impact Splatter", it tries to get a bit of atmosphere established before slamming into the main body of the song. As far as openings go, it's not as frantic as the last album (Torture - opener "Demented Agression" pretty much through you into the fucking grinder from the off) but I guess it's good to have a change. One of the things that hits you is that the production is great too. No longer "Produced by Scott Burns at Morrisound Recording Studios" (I've said it before - but that sentence used to be a badge of honour back in the early 90's. Alas, times change and new technology, techniques and other stuff has since came out and dated those particular production techniques. Don't get me wrong, they still sound formidible but they don't have the same impact. But at least it isn't Mutt fucking Lange burying everything under a synthesizer or Bob Rock making you sound like a glam band. Anyway, I digress. This album was produced by Mark Lewis at Audiohammer Studios, Florida and he does a great job.

The rest of the band are no slouches neither - I've already mentioned how great Corpsegrinder Fisher is, the guitarists (Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett) are great too, managing to play those tight as fuck rhythms and with some great solos too! Bassist Jack Webster (A God among bassists) and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz lay down some proper rhythm section goodness. It's certainly something as unlike certain other bands from the Florida Death Metal scene, they don't feel the need to change a winning formula. So instead of singing about being part of the HARDCORE RADIKULT, they just go ahead and do what they do best. Maybe that's defeating the purpose of music as an artform, as all forms of art should not only be pleasing to whichever demographic they apply to, but sometimes it's best not to upset the apple cart. Or the fanbase - especially by releasing a double-CD-remix album of songs from perhaps your most polarizing album...

The songs on here all follow the standard template, all blastbeats whilst guitars and bass create whirlwinds and the vocals lead the charge. If done with the same level of conviction on here, then each release is sure to be a classic! Cannibal Corpse used to have a habit of nasty song titles based on shock-value alone. Now, they're still nasty sounding but not as nasty sounding. I doubt anyone will get too offended over the likes of "Icepick Lobotomy" or "Bloodstained Cement", but it does show that the band are more confident of pulling in listeners without resorting to shock tactics. Having said that, one could argue that the early songs are still more likely to pull the new fans in due to the shock factor - hey, that's what got me involved - of said lyrics, but with stuff like this further down the line, those new fans are going to be in for a treat.

Anyhow, the only flaw I've got with this album is that it's over too soon. But all good things must come to an end so with that, I'd like to wish you all a pleasent day/night and I apologise for the crude nature of this blog. I've been in hospital for the last week due to picking up an infection from a cat bite (Not my cat) so my blog skills need sharpening again. Normal service will be resumed.

Top track: Kill Or Become.

8/10 - Oh you have my attention, any maybe my money, time and heart.

Chris J.

Link to buy on Amazon.
Link to listen on Spotify

This album is also available on iTunes. Just a shame they can't give this away instead of that fucking U2 album...

Aphex Twin - SYRO

(Brief line here - This album have now been nominated for the Mercury music prize for 2015.  This review was published 23 September 2014.)

Oh, I have been waiting for a long time for this album.  For me, I can still remember the first moment I heard Aphex Twin and where I was.  I would love to say it was in some nightclub and that I was a young hipster (well, maybe not a hipster, but you know what I am getting at), but that was not the case.  It was in a record shop in North Shields called Off The Record, the track was called "Didgeridoo" and it was not like anything I had ever heard before in my life.  At that point, I was a metal head and all music had to be heavy.  Indie - forget it, I wanted noise, guitars that sounded like heaven imploding and death scream.  So the chances of me liking anything of an electronic nature were small.  Now, Off The Record was predominantly a dance record store but the owner would get me the latest rock and metal releases as he was a good lad.  When I went it, he would play some of his favourite tunes just to laugh at my reaction to the music, mostly it was me laughing; but over the years a few gems were dropped.  I still remember the first remix of "The Green Man" by Shut Up & Dance; there was also a fantastic mix of "Magic Fly" from early electronic pioneers Space - however, nothing compares to how "Didgeridoo" hit me.  It was a jaw dropping moment in my musical experience and along with the first time I heard Machine Head, I can say it is one of those times where I just had to buy the song there and then.  So from that point forward, I have always been interested in whatever is being released by Mr R D James.

Very brief history lesson for the people who are new to the sound of Aphex Twin:  according to various sources, the first release from Mr James was under the name AFX and was called 'Analogue Bubble Bath' which was released in 1991, with "Didgeridoo" being the first extended play under the Aphex Twin name the following year.  Over the years, Aphex Twin has five studio albums, three complication albums and nine eps - until till now.  Now there is a sixth studio album, which is not an odds and sods album which has been drawn together from songs since the last release in 2004.  This is a brand new album, which has been hyped in a way that I have not seen since the surprised announcement of the last David Bowie album; but Aphex Twin has always managed to be a master of publicity, whilst keeping them out of range as well.  He is the ultimate enigma in music, a man with a huge amount of music to release to the world; yet we know next to fuck all about him.  He admits he does not like the personality side of the music industry and that is fine by me.  I like the mystery, it adds to the music at times and that is something that is missing in the age of easy access via iTunes, Amazon and Spotify (I know, the irony that I put those links below is not lost on me).  So, for the past few months I have awaiting the day I could start this review, I have looked at each photo that has been released to see if I could gain any hint as to what the album is going to be about, how it is going to sound - I got the square root of jack all and this made me so happy! I like that very much, so as you can expect I am a little excited to start this review.   But has the years away from Aphex Twin changed the sound, has it diluted the formula?  Let’s see if I am building myself up for a disappointment....

The album starts with "minipops 67 [120.2] (source field mix)" which was also the lead single for the album as well. When I first heard it, I was not sure what to make of it.  To be honest, it is not as bonkers and strange as his earlier work; but there is still the odd noodle of noise that brings to mind the younger Mr James.  After repeated listens, once you get over the "ohmygoohmygoohmyfuckinggoitisanewaphextwinsongiamgonnashitinmypants" feeling of excitement you are left with some wondrous noise that would not have been out of place in the 90's, the 00's or now.  It has a timeless quality, without resorting to screwing with the listener’s perception of reality.  Next it the beast called "XMAS_EVET10 [120] (thanaton3 mix)", which comes in at ten minutes and thirty one seconds.  Again, this is a very misleading sort of track; there is a very easy going vibe floating on the top of the number, but if you scratch beneath the surface there is this dark and twist ambient abyss waiting to wash over you and claim you are its own.  When I was listening to the track, in places it was reminding me of Robert Logan - but then it occurred to me that this is just the sort of thing that Mr James has been doing for years and influence and originality are the same here.  It is a mesmerising song and does not fail to engage the listen through each twist and turn.  After this is "produk 29 [101]" which comes across as a rather bizarre hip-hop beat techno electronica hybrid and noise piece.  Same as it ever was with Mr James, total original and still off the wall without all the blood.  The vocal sample in the middle is particularly chilling when you are not expecting it.

"4 bit 9d api+e+6 [126.26]"continues the strange working of this album, which so far has not been as confrontational as earlier releases, yet it is still not an easy listen in places.  Again, you have the trademark sense of evil lurking in the corners and the bass, oh that wondrous bass sound.  Playing this as loud as possible has been the second biggest point of joy for me musically this year for me, the song was just designed to make the bones rattle and move.  The biggest point of joy is the bass of  "180db_ [130]" - like The Bug and the song "Fuck You", it is one of those moments where you are just a slave to the song.  But the bass on this song that starts with a kick drum pounding into your life and never really leaving.  It is another jaw dropping example of Aphex Twin at the peak of the genre and not giving a fuck if about the rest of the world.  It has nothing to do with any current scene or movement; it is just an instant classic from the one man genre that is Aphex Twin.  The track which is burdened with the unenviable task of following "180db_[130]" is  "CIRCLONT6A [141.98] (syrobonkus mix)", but it is an admirable slice of noise that drive the point home that this man is still dangerous.  The levels of noise and different sounds that are going on in this song are mind boggling and it does bring the first half of this album to a spectacular conclusion.

Starting the section of this album is the interlude which is "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]", a minute long piece of sound and bleeps which gives way to the next track - "CIRCLONT14 [152.97] (shrymoming mix)".  This is one of the more straight forward songs on offer here, with a fast beat and drifting keyboards mixed with mystical vocals, you have a classic which will have people trying to keep up with the fucked up beats and rhythms that flow from the speakers.  It may not be as challenging as "Come To Daddy" or "Windowlicker", but you have a track which stand up to anything else that is on this album and does not take prisoners at all.  The ninth track is called "syro u473t8+e [141.98] (piezoluminescence mix)" which ones again has a hip-hop feel to the beats and is yet another likeable track that keeps up all the good work that has been building through this album.  It is a quintessential Aphex Twin track, but once again the aggression of years gone by is not as in your face; but when the music sounds this good, who cares!  It is not as if he is all of a sudden making nursery rhymes and X-Factor anthems, it is still deviant electronica, just with a measure of experience that cannot be replicated by many.

"PAPAT4 [155] (pineal mix)" was almost the album of the track, but it does not quite take the crown from "180db_[130]".  What this track represents, is the perfect marriage of all the piece of the album into one perfect four minutes slice of electronica that makes this blogger feel like he is in his youth once again.  The hairs on my body are all standing on end, even after I have gotten over the fact I am listening to a new Aphex Twin album.  It has everything that is good with Mr James in it, there is no negative with this track (or anything that has gone on before here); it is just a track that keeps on given, even after it has ended.  The penultimate track is called  "s950tx16wasr10 [163.97] (earth portal mix)" and the spooky is brought out by Aphex Twin at this point. The uneasy noise is front and centre, the fast keyboards and perverse squeaks and sounds just drip over this number to cascade into the listener note by rancid note.  Ending the album is "aisatsana [102]" which acts as a comedown to the break neck pace of the rest of the album.  A piano track with countryside noises in the background, you can imagine the summer happening outside the studio whilst it was being recorded.  It is a serine ending to this noisy album.

The wait for this album has been long and in someways most people would have given up hope of every hearing another album where the artist title was Aphex Twin.  I don't know if the wait justifies the end result of the album that will be told in the fullness of time.  But it is a glorious piece of noise that once again shows that whilst there are many noise and electronica artist out there who are doing some sterling stuff, there has always been one man who is just so far ahead of the curve that he just keeps everyone guessing to what he will do next.  The tiles are a tad weird, but boys will have the messy ways and I can only hazard to guess what the rest of the world will feel to this album.  For me, it is one of those records which improve more and more after each listen.  Mainly because you firstly have to separate it from the rest of Aphex Twin and remember that the man who made this album, well he is not the same youth who made all those classics from years ago.  He is a different version of that person with different experiences and goals.  But with this album, the change is subtle and still with a degree of danger; Aphex Twin is not a soft docile beast, there is still a vicious undercurrent of menace about the album.  It is not an instant classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it is damn close to being one.  I have a feeling like with the Nick Cave album from last year; I might regret this mark in the future and wish it was higher.  The music is still beyond what anyone else is doing, but that is just business as usual for Mr James; just don't expect knives in the head, more like cuts to the soul.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost. 

Top track - "180db_ [130]

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

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Here is a link to the Aphex Twin page on Warp Records

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you to listen to the album

Past sermons

Greatest hits