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Aphex Twin

About Aphex Twin

Richard D. James, known by many as Aphex Twin, is widely considered a pioneer of electronic music. His sound is diverse, but is typically characterized by textured, ambient synth stylings, tight sampling, and pressing drum patterns.

The pseudonym Aphex Twin is an homage both to the Aphex Systems Limited brand of audio equipment and to his older brother who died at birth. As a child, he would play the family piano from the inside by toying with the wires and hammers.

James began his career in the early 1990s composing jungle, industrial, and ambient techno for the U.K. dance scene using custom synths and components. As his early album titles indicate, such as Analogue Bubblebath, he used analog synth equipment to create his sounds.

He is infamous for using his face on his album covers and distorting it in strange ways. In an interview with Heiko Hoffman, he explained it was a rebellion against the culture of techno producers hiding their identities:

I did it because the thing in techno you weren’t supposed to do was to be recognized and stuff. The sort of unwritten rule was that you can’t put your face on the sleeve. It has to be like a circuit board or something. Therefore I put my face on the sleeve. That’s why I originally did it. But then I got carried away.

Though James released a slew of albums in the 90s and early 2000s, he stopped making music under the Aphex Twin name after 2004’s Classics, a greatest hits album. But ten years later, he surprised the world with Syro, effectively returning to the music world, and followed up with 2016’s Cheetah EP.