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POLYGON WINDOW
Surfing On Sine Waves

WARPCD7
Warp 1993/2001
11 Tracks. 56mins50secs

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First artist album in the quintessential Artificial Intelligence series, which would define the Warp sound to this day, Surfing On Sine Waves is the work of Aphex Twin Richard D. James. The AI series would then include other seminal work by Black Dog Productions (Bytes), B12 (Electo-Soma), F.U.S.E. (Dimension Intrusion), Speedy J (Ginger) and Autechre (Incunabula).
Released in between the two Aphex Twins’ Selected Ambient Work, Surfing On Sine Waves encompasses the dance scene of the early nineties, as it was starting to recover from the Acid days, and was by then moving ahead, towards a more Kraftwerk-esque era. A fine record, Surfing On Sine Waves is also James’s most melodic record to date. The album opens with a slightly longer version of Polygon Window than the one featured on the Artificial Intelligence compilation, and foreshadows the general sound of the record, that is a slightly acidic sound underlined by soothing waves of multi-textural synthetic strings and polymorph beats. Audax Powder is not dissimilar, continuing the along the same line. Quoth displays a more tribal feel, and prefigured Selected Ambient Works 2, in the way it deals with atmosphere in a very specific manner. The track is built around a phenomenal beat, with multiple percussions and delays, to create a very unusual musical structure to this day. James would develop this way of creating music from nothing in SAW2, while getting rid of the drums, leaving an empty shell with which he would construct some astonishing ambiences by his use of delays, effects and noises. The contrast between Quoth and If It Really Is Me couldn’t be greater, the later most definitely being one of the most melodic and simple tracks James has ever released. Supremacy II shows a more in-your-face approach, but Surfing On Sine Waves regain its composition with the following three tracks, pushing the acid equation to some strangely quiet shores with track 7. To coincide with the opening of their new American office, Warp Records have released a remastered version of the album, including two extra tracks, Portreath Harbour and Redruth School, that Richard D. James excavated from the sessions recorded around the time of Surfing On Sine Waves. If Portreath Harbour fits perfectly with the rest, Redruth School proves to be a definite winner, with its slightly perverse atmosphere and polyrhythmic patterns. Quino-Phec concludes the album on a restrained note, which once again was an indication of what direction would Aphex Twin take for his following record.
Nearly ten years after its first release, Surfing On Sine Waves proves to be a very enduring record, on which Richard D. James, then at the beginning of his career, showed some clear signs of his visionary talent. Essential.

5/5

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TRACKLIST

Polygon Window
Audax Powder
Quoth
If It Really Is Me
Supremacy 2
UT1-dot
Untitled
Quixote
Portreath Harbour
Redruth School
Quino-phec

APHEX TWIN / RICHARD D JAMES Discography

THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO APHEX TWIN
Warp Records
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