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Arts and Entertainment

The Tuss - new material from Richard D. James (AFX)

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One of my primary goals when I started working in the music business was to, some day, meet with somebody from Warp Records. As an eager newbie DJ in 1990, I was fortunate enough to discover this label through a couple of releases that helped form my sensibilities in a way that was so profound that it endures to this day. Coco Steele & Lovebomb's "You Can't Stop the Groove" and Power Pill's "Pac Man" helped lay the foundation for what can most accurately be described as an obsession with the Warp Records camp. Warp is a label that is willing to release music that is so experimental as to be un-listenable, even to people like myself who possess weird ears, relishing music at its most fucked up.

Last week this dream came true, and despite extensive grilling about the whereabouts of Jimmy Edgar, the Boards of Canada, Plaid, Beans, Squarepusher, and Aphex Twin, I heard no mention of the Tuss.

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Warp's first and most enduring star was Richard D. James, whose alter-egos include AFX, Aphex Twin, Gak, Caustic Window, Power Pill and Polygon Window. In true fashion, James started his own imprint, Rephlex, in an effort to proliferate under different pseudonyms. James' latest incarnation, The Tuss, is embodied on Rephlex 189 and 190, and yes, these EPs are the shit.

More of me really making an ass of myself over dope new music after the jump, or more accurately put in this case, the hard landing.

In the United States, even with the internet, electronic music is something that is elusive, underground, and hard to find, even if you know what you are looking for. I listen to music for a living and know exactly what I am looking for, and yet, I rely on a select group of heads to help turn me on to new shit. At my boy Paris' birthday party last Saturday, his roommate Joe and I shared a brief moment of disgust as we determined that I hadn't heard the new Aphex side project, the Tuss.

Despite denial of any involvement with the project, the Rushup Edge and Confederation Trough EPs consist of classic Aphex material. Combining the best of his techniques over the last 20 years, this new set of tracks are an unmistakable example of James' stranglehold over the cutting edge of sequencing, sound design, synthesis, and composition.

If you are not already a fan of Richard James, it is going to be tough to give you an introduction. He hasn't done anything that is easily listenable all the way through. I do think that Windowlicker is a great track which, if you like it, will open your mind to this legendary player. If one person reads this, watches the video, and becomes an Aphex disciple, I have done my job. For the rest of you, Richard James is either already a legend or he is the creator of a bunch of noise that you couldn't care less about. I fall into the former group. If you have never heard of him, I highly recommend sitting through the next 10 minutes, which pretty well illustrate the mindset and sound of this talented and disurbed artist.

James' new Tuss material flirts with sounds and themes ranging from his downtempo / ambient work on the Selected Ambient Works and Analogue Bubblebath series from early in his career, as well as the hyper-technical, high fidelity treatment of the grittiest sounds imaginable from his I Care because You Do / Richard D. James phase. The result is a surprisingly musical and listenable set of EPs that never seems to go fully to James' dark side.

I strongly recommend these EPs for any fan of Aphex Twin, as well as anyone interested in the experimental side of electronic music.

Enjoy! ©