Album: Orpahned Deejay Selek 2006-08
Label: Warp Records
Pressing: 1st press /???
It is fantastic to have Richard D James back in music, especially after him being a hermit for so long. However, I must admit - I struggled with Syro. I really did. First track ‘minipops’ piqued my interest, until those first vocal samples kicked in, and from then on the majority of the album struggled to keep my attention. By ‘Produk 29 ’ I was skipping through tracks, and I still am today. Maybe it’s just me, perhaps tellingly my favourite track from Syro is ‘s950tx16wars10’, where he teases us with some chopped up amens before laying an almost ‘Reunion’ style AFX drone over the top and then descending into some experimental half acid, half ambient, half amen/dub mash-up (I am aware that is 3 halves). For an artist to have been away so long, I selfishly wanted to hear particular things, to be transported back to that time when I first heard Drukqs or Come To Daddy. And I unfortunately wasn’t…
He is however having a prolific streak, releasing Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments, which satisfied some of my Drukqs urges, I then enjoyed RDJ almost sending Soundcloud and the entire internet into meltdown by uploading over 100 old/new tracks and edits!
Now we have this. A release of work under the AFX alias for the first time in nearly a decade. For me, this is the strongest output since his return, and it is arguably only an EP. Perhaps it is because for me, narrow-mindedly, it takes off pretty much where the Analord Series ended. There are definite nods to ‘Fenix Funk 5’ and ‘Pitcard’ here, even using some of the same drum fills and patterns. It is mostly upbeat for 2/3 of the record, in fact you could almost say some of this music is straight forward in approach. It is definitely captivating from the very beginning however. Those introductory handclaps in ‘serge fenix rendered 2’ have you nodding away before some very eerie modulated weirdness takes over. ‘Oberheim blacet1b’ teases us with some amen style breaks right at the end of the track and this momentum continues into ‘bonus EMT beats’, with its stabbing layers of padded drums and echo effects. In fact, this track is just an exercise in drums, and acts as a nice interlude before heightening the tension again with some weird keys. ‘Simple slamming b 2’ is perhaps my favourite track on the record, with its underlying techno thump and those urgent sounding hi-hats which keep resurfacing throughout the track, even once the tuning and synths try to exercise their dominance.
The whole record has a definite analog/acid feel throughout, even the artwork with its die-cut sleeve, large retro-futurism type, and flashes of bright purple, is a throwback to Warp releases of yester-year. But the production is ‘better’ and more modern on this work. It is slightly cleaner, more crisp, more defined, which you could arguably say is a step in the wrong direction for releases under the AFX alias, but I feel that clarity of sound makes for a much creepier, unsettling experience in some places. The final 3 tracks are all slower in pace, more ambient; ‘midi pipe 1c…’ had me feeling like I was playing in the Donut Ghost House from Super Mario World, those ’nice’ sounding flute samples luring you in to the very creepy corridors of weird tuning, squeaks and creeks. The weird panning effect of ‘NEOTEKT72’ is also blissfully uneasy listening, putting you on edge, but in an enjoyable way. A bit like a mild surge of drug induced paranoia… ‘r8m neotek beat’, is more of a lulling, peaceful rework of the previous two tracks, and rounds the record out as a very calming outro.
As the 2006-08 part of the title suggests, this comes across sounding very much like an Analord drenched release. However, it is an engaging record. It is familiar sounding, while offering a new AFX experience. I think the fact that this release is shorter, and some of these tracks the most straight forward music produced by RDJ for years, works to the advantage of the record. On certain releases these qualities would be seen as harsh criticisms, but for Orphaned Deejay Selek I consider them to very positive attributes. As I’ve said, I found Syro hard going, and while I believe music should challenge you, that particular record didn’t deliver the payoff I was hoping for. In fact I rarely spin that record. However his AFX release is an easier investment in time, concentration, effort and money, and the rewards and subsequent replay value are far greater.