Aphex Twin

Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 EP

by Colton Game

Aphex Twin has returned after a few years of silence with Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 EP (quite a creative title), what I’ll assume is the third in a trilogy of EPs he’s released under the Aphex Twin name since Syro in 2014. The sounds here seem to find a nice middle ground between the incredibly slow pace of Cheetah EP, and the hectic nature of Collapse EP.

The first track, “Blackbox Life Recorder 21f,” is a good enough track with some interesting synthscapes. I like the odd “ah” sound effects here, and the drumbeat gets pretty dirty after about a minute. The track continues to build off itself until a light break around the halfway point, where it sort of repeats the same process. “zin2 test5” is a bit shorter, and the bouncy synths get your head bobbing right from the start. It’s using some of the same sounds present from the first track, and I assume James had just messed with the same files used before. Again, a really fun track with not much else to say.

“in a room 7F760” is the fastest track here, and easily my favorite. The cowbells absolutely bang and I can’t help but nod along to the whole track. The sounds that get added start giving the vibe of a weird underground cave level in a Mario game, up until about the 1:29 mark where it breaks down with these staccato synth hits that I can’t get over. This track is just so much fun and has been on repeat for me. The final track, “Blackbox Life Recorder 21f [Parallax Mix]” continues the trend of Aphex Twin creating another mix of a previous song that’s just slightly different than before. I think I prefer the original by a bit, but I dig the darker tone on this version as well.

The impression I’m getting from James over the past few projects is just that he’s tinkering with an array of sounds that play off of what we heard in Syro, with varying results. It’s always interesting to hear something new from this outfit, and while this EP is great, it doesn’t quite get to the heights of his albums or earlier EPs.