Mashed Potatoes. It’s not often that you hear those two words forming the bedrock of a track, but that’s exactly how Children Talking kicks things off on Hangable Auto Bulb, Richard D. James’ pre Aphex Twin album from 1995, now reissued in 2005. It’s the start of just over half an hour of the distinct electronic intensity and playfulness that we later came to associate with James, and his many alter egos, and it’s as exciting as it ever was.
Hangable Auto Bulb was actually released across two separate EPS, and the eight tracks have been brought together for the new release. Most importantly, only 1000 pressings of the music were ever made on vinyl, making it an extremely rare commodity that only the hardcore of the hardcore of Aphex fans (and perhaps the richest) will be familiar with. Those in possession of the rare treasures may well be kicking themselves right now, but for the rest of us it’s a welcome opportunity to experience another side of Richard D. James, as his trademark sound was developing, yet already oh so apparent. And oh so ear-bendingly sinister.
Hangable Auto Bulb is a pretty peculiar name for an album, even in the multiple-persona filled world of Mr. Richard D. James/Polygon Window/Caustic/Aphex Twin, but it makes (slightly) more sense when you discover that it’s an anagram of Analogue Bubblebath, the title of a series of releases by James from the mid to late 90s. One of the highlight tracks, Laughable Butane Bob, is another anagram of the same name.
How to describe it? Well, without wanting to, er, cop out, is there any point in describing anything that James has done? It’s as distinctively quirky as all the rest, with its attention deficit disorder beats that gyrate, oscillate and transform from one intense passage to the next. It’s a musical ride that’s purely focused on the undulating, transient nature of the present, a fleeting glimpse of moments as they race past, like trying to watch an electrical impulse speed into the distance. You already know if you love it or hate it, and if you’re a lover, you’re going to rush out and get this anyway.
What is important to mention is that you won’t be disappointed. In fact, to take a step back to 1995, where this kind of pioneering schizophrenia was being committed to tape for the first time by a key figure of the ‘movement’, one could almost get nostalgic. Well that’s if it didn’t still sound so much like the future. It might only last half an hour, but Hangable Auto Bulb is an important purchase for anyone who wants their electronica collection to be water-tight.
Hangable Auto Bulb (2005)
Record Label: Warp Records
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