Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do
or better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.
In the summer of '95 or '96, "Electronica" was being labeled the next big thing. I had successfully started getting into the craze a few months before due to a friend who had lent me a copy of the Chemical Brother's Exit Planet Dust. I had been replaying that album, singing along to the vocal samples, and belying my classic rock heritage, in anticipation of their next classic work of Big Beat. It was about this time that I came across an article in Newsweek dedicated solely to the "next big thing."
Inside of the article praising the craziness of people such as Keith Flint and the anonymity of such performers like the Chemical Brothers I came across a mini-review section that featured artists like Orbital, the Future Sound of London, and Aphex Twin. Judging by the album covers shown in the section, the Twin immediately caught my attention with his self-portrait of his infamous grinning face coming off the page at me. He was described as the Brian Wilson of electronic music: a frazzled genius with too many ideas in his head to express them all. Loving the obvious genius of Pet Sounds and the Smile Sessions I figured that I Care Because You Do would be a nice little melodic addition to my collection.
Although I was surprised to find that the record didn't start off with a boys choir singing "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" as I was driving home and listening to the album on my compact disc player, I knew that this album would definitely require some more intent listening later that night, without the chirping of my mother's voice in my ear.
As I climbed into bed and put on my headphones I became excited as the first beats rang in my ear. Each song was a conglomeration of individual, disparate parts which, when grouped together, made perfect songs. Each song is almost simplistic when broken down to its constituent parts, and the listener can easily hear the four-bar repetition involved in the process of the music, but that takes nothing away from the craftsmanship that went into this work. I was not surprised at all to find that Philip Glass had done a remix of one of Aphex Twin's tracks on the album - both share a kind of lulling repitious quality to the work. However, unlike Glass, Aphex is more than willing to throw in tracks or sounds that will confound and deceive the listener, the grating "Ventolin" being the prime example.
Overall this release is one of the many shining moments in Richard D. James recording career as Aphex Twin.