CD Review

AFX - "Analogue Bubblebath"

By Marcus Pan

Analogue BubblebathRichard D. James is one of the more well known tranch/techno producers as well as one of the most consistent. Operating under the name Aphex Twin or, in this case, AFX, Richard James creates the type of bubbly, iridescent dance/trance that is designed with one purpose in mind - getting lost in. Richard has also turned his hand to ambient and, in even rarer circumstances, music with lyrics within it as he experiments across various genres and has recorded under various other names as well: Polygon Window, The Diceman, etc. But his most well-known and appreciated work has always been his trance/dance style, typical of what is found on the CD I'm going to discuss today, Analogue Bubblebath.

Admittedly, TVT's release of AFX's Analogue Bubblebath is dated - 1992. But considering I am somewhat new to the trance-like genre as is shown by my recent reviews of Autechre's Amber and others of that older fashion, I felt it was ok to write up Analogue Bubblebath. This is a good name for this four-track CD in most instances of sound on it as well - there is a very bubbly and floaty feel to much of the music herein. Being it's an EP with four tracks we can take a look at each track one by one without risking space. Much of his work, from looking at his discography, is stays to a similar 4-6 track length with the full lengths being fewer than the shorter.

Analogue Bubblebath
Exquisitely moody and with a perfect moniker, Analogue Bubblebath is considered a classic among die-hard trance fans. Richard's choices of floating beats and perfectly selected and placed computeresque blips along with a highly comfortable and reverberating synth-chord line is wonderfully transient for the wanna-be raver. The flute-like slides behind the simple chord work adds a new dimension to the track giving it an effervescent feel.

This wasn't a good choice of tracks to follow the iridescent Analogue Bubblebath because I feel the opening and continuing metal-edged beat of Isopropophlex cuts rather than slides. After the first track you're comfortable, floating, and then suddenly you're being hit in the head. It's not quite a hammer that's hitting you - more like a Nerf football - but nonetheless it is an extreme change of moods that turns around the CD quite suddenly.

Entrance To Exit
A rhythmic, tribal-like drum & bass track, Entrance To Exit has a very complicated beat track combined with occasional symphonic chord hits. Richard applies sliding guitar tweaks near the end to give an other-worldly feel. It's a very fast moving track, sure to move most harder edged electro enthusiasts.

Again the mood changes from a trancier one to a more stompier one, but at least the beats aren't as riveting and damaging to the core of the mood as Isopropophlex was. AFX2 is a minimal, beat-driven song that leaves much to be desired and doesn't explore the chord sways it begins with as much as it could have. They are always subdued and very background - or maybe that's because later in the track a squeaking is applied in time to the beats, like a mouse trapped in a bongo.

Richard James has many more offerings I will most likely explore. The sensations that riveted me in Analogue Bubblebath, clearly the leader on this EP, is enough to make me do so even if the other three tracks left something to be desired. The sounds of AFX are a definitely acquired taste as I've learned - but if electronica is your thing, look into them.

Contact Information:
Post: TVT Records, 23 E. 4th St. New York City, NY, 10003
Phone: (212) 979-6410
Fax: (212) 979-6489

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