Selected Abandoned Works: Aphex Twin demos party at Sleazy’s
Did Aphex Twin really dump 100 tunes onto Soundcloud? Who cares, let's just play 'em loud and party
When a mystery user recently dumped 100-plus demos onto Soundcloud, fanboys and girls went nuts on social media, speculating this was in fact a fresh cargo of unreleased music from Aphex Twin, released in typically obtuse manner. To celebrate the mysterious man, Sleazy’s are organising a playback party. Matt Evans discusses the merits of communal listening – and in this case, dancing.
Smartphones and Spotify have made it easier than ever for music to be a permanent fixture in our lives, yet this entails a risk of it becoming wallpaper, a backdrop to working, exercising, cooking, reading, idly scrolling away our lives on Facebook. Making the time to actively listen, to the exclusion of all else, can feel like a luxury.
Context and company also influence our responses to art. A focused listening experience among friends has an entirely different character to lying on the floor and cranking up the cans. Perhaps in response to our pod-people headphone culture, group listening events we’ve covered in the past, such as Classic Album Sundays and Glasgow’s own Lights Out Listening Group bring people together to throw themselves, wholeheartedly and communally, into sound.
This Sunday, Nice‘n’Sleazy’s will host its own, unique and timely session: a playback of selections from the 100-plus demos uploaded to Soundcloud by someone who claims not to be Aphex Twin, but is clearly Aphex Twin (and we know it’s Aphex Twin because that’s precisely what Aphex Twin would do).
‘I’d been following the reaction on social media,’ says organiser Guy Veale. ‘It struck me how quick people were to either celebrate and go wild, or dismiss the hype and tire of it very easily. I wanted to hear my favourites loud, and figured that preparing material for the event would force me to gain a comprehensive overview – good, bad or indifferent.’
The focus on largely unheard, often quite subtle music from one single artist means this is far from your usual club night, but it’s no chin-stroking fest, either. Veale says that dancing is very much encouraged.
‘Most of the music is rhythmic and beat-driven – not all standard club fodder, but mixable, and spanning enough subgenres to make for a pretty varied night. Some of it will be for wiggling, rather than dancing.’
Does a playback session with no artist present, no performance aspect, affect how people interact with music?
‘Normally, it would be detrimental having nobody to focus on. People like to see that someone’s in control of what they’re hearing. What makes this different is that none of this stuff has been put together and played out yet. There are bound to be things we hear that are not necessarily obvious at first. Much of the music is tactile, rough and ready – you can hear him live sequencing and hitting faders, you can hear the touch he has on synths and his ear for melody and basslines shining through, let alone the expression behind the percussion and meticulous editing on certain tracks.’
‘In absence, his fingers will be very present, and the music is strong enough to carry through with no personalities embellishing it, other than his own aura.’
AFX, Nice’n’ Sleazy’s, Sunday 8 February, free entry. Please note: Richard D. James will not be appearing at this event.