Some Cornish magic in my top 100 songs list now, with “Girl/Boy Song” from Aphex Twin’s 1996 “Richard.D.James” album.
One of the most innovative, provocative and mysterious acts in all music over the last 50 years, let alone within the electronic world, it’s really tough to pick a favourite Aphex Twin track from his hugely varied catalogue. Honourable mentions must go to the teddy bear warped bounce pop of “Donkey Rhubarb”, the coastal chimes of “On”, early banger “Didgeridoo” and the gorgeous piano only “Avril 14th”. Plus of course “Windowlicker” whose squelchy mutant funk still sounds like nothing else over twenty years later, surely one of the most out-there top 20 singles ever – having reached number 16 in 1999 helped by its jawdropping Chris Cunningham video.
However, it’s “Girl/Boy Song” that stands out as my personal top Aphex tune. Originally released as the lead track of the “Girl/Boy EP” in August 1996, “Girl/Boy Song” also forms part of “Richard.D.James Album”, probably my favourite Aphex LP. Just 10 tracks and 32 minutes long, the album’s full of beautiful melodies backed by delightfully jittery beats. “Girl/Boy Song” is a perfect distillation of this approach, plucked strings juxtaposed with jungle adjacent drums as new melodic motifs (e.g. distant xylophones) drift in and out, with the net result proving simultaneously relaxing and hyperactive.
“Girl/Boy Song” also dates from when my Aphex obsession was probably at its height, capped by an amazing live show at a dodgy old theatre in Hulme, Manchester in December 1996. Aphex Twin just lay on the stage barely visible tweaking his laptops, while the two giant teddy bears from the “Donkey Rhubarb” video raved around the stage, wonderful stuff. Aphex’s mischievous ways means that his live performances are notoriously hit and miss and I’ve certainly seen a couple of “misses”, but his recent return to prominence meant that I did see him play a fantastic headline set at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival in 2017, perhaps a bit more at stake when playing to an expectant crowd of thirty thousand or so.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- “Girl/Boy Song” fan-made video on YouTube
- “Girl/Boy Song” superb live cover version by Te-Ri (Japanese rock duo)
- Bonus video: “Donkey Rhubarb” by Aphex Twin
- Bonus video: “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin
- Other great Aphex Twin songs include: Avril 14th, Didgeridoo, On, Ventolin, Xtal, Windowlicker, Donkey Rhubarb
- “Girl/Boy Song” is featured on my B100 Spotify playlist
- Also featured on my 379: Electronic Spotify playlist
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