Drukqs puts to rest any rumors that Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) would be calling an early retirement to his music career. Back from the shadows, Richard returns with a double album loaded with thirty tracks and a whole new mood to scare the shit out of you. Drukqs is like witnessing a bad car accident: you want to look away, but deep down inside you are intrigued to see what all the commotion is about. With Aphex Twin, the chaos always seems to be controlled and contained, never too fast or annoying to the ear. Richard James has composed thirty pieces of music that are on the cutting edge of electronic brilliance. Expanding upon Aphex Twin’s prior dark drum and bass and classical experiments, the newer material is a fresh hybrid of drum and bass with ambient-techno, if you can fathom that. Featuring moments of bizarre beauty and head banging, Drukqs will literally leave you speechless.
The classical tinkering continues on Drukqs to assist in setting various moods and atmosphere, but helps break away from the extreme intense tracks to give the record durability and separation. Soft instrumentals like “Petialtil Cx Htdui” and “Avril 14th” feature a piano and/or dulcimer that demonstrates the maturity of James as a composer. “Petialtil Cx Htdui” is a short but sweetly delicate piano piece that emanates a warm glow in the simplest manner. “Btoum-Roumada” traces back to Aphex’s early ambient days with a tripped-out spiritual vibe.
Aside from the abstract ambient material clustered throughout Drukqs, the dense digital drum and bass is still ever so present in Aphex Twin’s music. The high-powered drum and bass of “Omgyjya Switch” and “Mt. Saint Michel Mix + St.Michaels Mount” prove their intelligence by never repeating in pattern and continuously driving home a delightful buzz. “Ziggomatic v17” is full of electric jungle wizardry that brings the album’s beat portion to a close with a digitized drone saying “Thank you for your attention. Bye.”
Richard James may be one of today’s best modern composers, but he really needs a spellchecker on his computer. I’m not sure if I should just mention the track number or attempt to translate the titles of the songs, many of which are just a bunch of letters and numbers. That’s just Richard fucking with your head and showing his sense of humor by trying to get you to see through the titles and just focus in on the music.