Even if you aren't really into techno and ambient music (I'll admit that I just have a few artists that I throw on while I study, and I always enjoy it when my friends who went abroad drag me to clubs with all-night DJ sets) you can tell that Aphex Twin, aka Richard D. James, is on another level compared to most artists in his genre. His work shows incredible variation between the melty, thrash sound of his early EPs and his minimalist compilations which sound like the underwater music I heard during the hour or two I spent in a Berlin spa during spring break.
James just released a new song, "korg funk 5", that can offer just a glimpse of the sheer volume of his technical musical knowledge. "korg funk 5" was recorded using a new Monologue instrument manufactured by the Japanese musical instrument company Korg. James worked with Korg to create the presets on the Monologue, which is a scaled-down synth with a two-octave keyboard. Aphex Twin's latest funk is a driving techno track that could definitely make you lose track of time on a dark dance floor with it's springy synth lines and interspersed single word vocals. Richard D. James should have released this song earlier because the vocals are done by his son, and a father/son Aphex Twin collaboration definitely would have made Baeble's Father's Day list of favorite dad moments.
Even though I only have a vague grasp on the concept, I'm going to try to explain why "korg funk 5" gives us a hint of James' genius as a composer. He designed the Monologue to incorporate micro-tuning, a concept featured in much of his work. Basically microtuning takes a standard twelve-tone octave that you would play by hitting every key as you ascend the scale on a keyboard (C, C#,D,D#,E,F,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B) and kind of expands it to use tones that fall in between these twelve tones. I'm not even sure what these tones are called and, to me, this concept seems like having super sensitive eyes that can see colors other than ROYGBIV. So while most folks, and even most amateur musicians, can't quite make sense of notes beyond the twelve-tone scale, Richard D. James takes those notes and arranges them into sequences and does all kinds of crazy things with those sequences to make music that sounds like this. Mind blown.
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