In 1996, Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James was only 25 years old but had already been making music for over a decade. In between countless side projects, he found time to release his fourth album, the long-awaited Richard D. James Album. Having been in production for a number of years, it was understood to be the exact sort of album that James had wanted to release for some time – filled with unique IDM sounds, all delivered in a manner that only he can provide.
This also happened to be one of the first pieces of Aphex Twin’s discography that I discovered. Having heard plenty about the enigma that is Aphex Twin, I cautiously dipped my toe into the vast sea of his releases, choosing to start with an album that had seen plenty of critical reception.
Starting with the opening track ‘4’, I was rather impressed at what I was hearing. In between breakbeats, oddly-timed drums, and a rather gorgeous main melody, the track had me intrigued. Even more interesting was the rare presence of vocals from Richard D. James (even if it was just the phrase “yep”). I soon discovered why this was one of the most palatable songs in Aphex Twin’s discography and I figured that if everything else sounded as nice as this, I was in for good times.
Of course, this song was somewhat of an outlier in his oeuvre, being vastly different to the rest of his work. However, I soon discovered that even though everything else was so different, I didn’t hate it. In fact, had I not listened to a tune like ‘4’, I doubt I would’ve been so receptive to the odd sounds that I was hearing throughout his whole discography.
For that, ‘4’ has remained a track for which I’m very grateful. I hate to think what I would’ve missed out on had I decided to begin with a track like ‘Come To Daddy‘, for example.