- The king returns.
- In its opening moments, "T69 Collapse," the much-hyped new single from Richard D. James, runs dangerously close to formulaic Aphex Twin. His tried-and-tested minor-key melody unspools in a fashion typical of the post-Analord era, reinforced by punches of melodic bass. The drums are impressive as ever, aided especially by occasional splashes of spring reverb, but the opening two minutes are more or less exactly what you'd expect.
The track is saved by the startling middle section. We've heard plenty of dystopian, disintegrating breakdowns from James before, but this shock-and-awe makes the preceding passage sound like an expert setup rather than a predictable intro. Stuttering gates, ratcheting triplets and rolls, detuned leads and the laddering resonance on the filter sweeps are tightly organised, but they feel like they're collapsing in real time. When we're given a reprieve after three minutes, it's like dust settling after a supernova.
"T69 Collapse" hits a sweet spot that will please Aphex fans. It's almost like a best-of retrospective condensed into five minutes. While some of its ideas are familiar, the power to shock is still there. It may not warrant weeks of headline news and a momentous build-up of anticipation, but it's a relief that, when the time comes, Aphex's music can still do the talking.
01. T69 Collapse