Richard D. James Album

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Richard D. James Album
A shadowy photograph of a man grinning on a white background.
Studio album by Aphex Twin
Released4 November 1996 (1996-11-04)
GenreJungle, drill 'n' bass, IDM, electronica
Length32:51
LabelWarp
ProducerAphex Twin
Aphex Twin chronology
Girl/Boy EP
(1996)
Richard D. James Album
(1996)
Come to Daddy
(1997)

Richard D. James Album is the self-titled fourth studio album by British electronic musician Richard D. James, under his pseudonym Aphex Twin. In the United Kingdom, the album was released on 4 November 1996 through Warp. In the United States, it was released on 28 January 1997 by Sire Records, with the Girl/Boy EP included as bonus tracks. A reissue on vinyl was released on 18 September 2012.

Richard D. James Album was composed by James on his Macintosh computer, and took several years to complete—more than his previous efforts. The album features faster breakbeats and drum programming which draw influence from jungle and drum and bass, combined with lush string arrangements, unstable time signatures, and slow ambient melodies reminiscent of James' earlier work. The bonus tracks feature modulated vocals by James.

Richard D. James Album was less successful in the United Kingdom than James' two previous albums Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994) and ...I Care Because You Do (1995). However, the album still charted in the UK, peaking at number 62 on the UK Albums Chart for one week. It also peaked at number 20 in the US Top Heatseekers list, becoming James' first to do so. The album received acclaim from music critics, and NME listed it as the 20th best album of the year.

Background and production[edit]

In 1995, Richard James released his third album, ...I Care Because You Do, to critical acclaim. In the following year, James and fellow electronic musician Mike Paradinas released a collaboration album, Expert Knob Twiddlers, to lukewarm critical response. In August 1996, James released a solo EP, Girl/Boy.[1]

The breakbeats on Richard D. James Album were inspired by James' friend Luke Vibert (pictured in 2008).

James has stated that most of Richard D. James Album was composed on his Macintosh computer[2] and that the album took longer to create than any of his previous albums.[3] Some tracks on the album include James' vocals modulated on a computer; in "To Cure a Weakling Child", James manipulated his voice to sound like a child giving a lecture about arms and legs.[2][3] For the orchestral arrangements on the album, James bought a violin at a car boot sale. He taught himself to play a note from the instrument by placing it on a table, playing a note and sampling it for the album.[4]

The drum programming on the album was inspired by James' friend Luke Vibert.[2] James described that he used to have it a "much slower pace" but that Vibert "got me into doing it a faster pace. He gave me the spark to do it faster, but now I'm trying to take it to all extremes".[2] James also noted the influence of his friend Tom Jenkinson. He had said Jenkinson and Vibert were the "only two people around who are [musically] consistent enough for me".[5]

The cover art for Richard D. James Album is credited to both James and Johnny Clayton.[6] Clayton did not accept credit for the album's cover, stating that he taught James how to use Photoshop and "he started playing around with his own self-image. That's what led to that cover."[6]

Composition[edit]

Richard D. James Album has been characterised as jungle,[7][8] drill 'n' bass[7] and IDM,[9] with elements of drum and bass[10][11] and ambient and acid techno in some tracks.[11] James has claimed the influence of jungle music came from "any of the drum 'n' bass and breakbeat artists" and that he has "always been into nicking other things [...] and making something different".[2] Stereogum noted the album heavily relies on drum programming, sampling, and "other digital intricacies that would've been otherwise unthinkable without computers".[12] It also features lush string arrangements and simple keyboard textures built over quadruple time breakbeats[13] and unstable time signatures.[11] Steve Taylor found the record Aphex Twin's "most terrifying" one, with "weird stop-start beats, white noise and tough melodies."[14]

John Bush of AllMusic noted that this was James' first studio album to work with jungle music, noting that the album was "more extreme than virtually all jungle being made at the time", with beats layered over slower melodies that characterised James' earlier ambient works.[8] Pitchfork opined that the album was one of the "aggressive combinations of disparate electronic forms", with "almost-brutal contrast between its elements".[15] Exclaim! commented that tracks such as "Girl/Boy Song", "Yellow Calx", and "Peek 824545201" were "loosely based on jungle".[16] Spin linked the album’s use of vocals, both sung and sampled, its cover artwork and title, stating that "Richard D. James might be the first electronica LP that not only gropes for narrative but also aspired to an abstract sort of autobiography."[17]

Release and reception[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Richard D. James Album was released by Warp on 4 November 1996.[18] The album charted on the UK Albums Chart in the week ending 16 November 1996 for one week, where it peaked at number 62.[19] In the UK, it was less successful than his two previous albums.[n 1] The American version included the Girl/Boy EP as bonus tracks.[21] It was released on 28 January 1997 by Sire Records.[21] The album was released on compact disc, cassette and gramophone record;[22] early copies of the album were distributed with a plastic sachet containing James' hair.[23] Along with ...I Care Because You Do (1995), Richard D. James Album was reissued on vinyl on 18 September 2012 by record label 1972.[24] Warp announced their own re-issue of the album on 180-gram vinyl for 8 October 2012.[25]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[8]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[26]
Muzik4.5/5[27]
Pitchfork8.4/10[28]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[29]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[30]
Spin7/10[31]
The Village VoiceB+[32]

In the United Kingdom, The Independent gave the album a positive review, stating that "The intuitive sense of melody [James] has been striving so hard to suppress over the last few years has come to the fore too, and the result is the most magical pop record of the year: the year in question being AD 2001".[33] In North America, Pitchfork gave the album an 8.4 out of ten rating, stating that "The Richard D. James Album is 43.5 minutes of pure electronic genius" and "just when your brain starts to comprehend a rhythmic pattern, the beat shifts, turns left and crushes your torso under the steering wheel."[28] Rolling Stone gave the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, commenting that "Aphex Twin coaxes great emotional resonance from his machines" and called "Yellow Calx" and "Girl/Boy Song" the album's "most lyrical moments". However, he also commented that "not all of Richard D. James goes down easy".[29] Entertainment Weekly awarded the album an A−, calling it James' "quirkiest, most personal work" and said that "4" and "Girl/Boy Song" revealed "a new warmth and wistfulness."[26] The Washington Post gave the album a negative review, referring to the music as "sloppy offhand", "a noisy mess" and sounding "like a private joke".[34]

NME placed the album at number 20 on their list of the best albums of 1996.[35] The Wire also listed the album among their top 50 albums of the year for 1996.[36] In 2003, Pitchfork listed their top albums of the 1990s, with Richard D. James Album ranking at 40.[15] Pitchfork stated that RDJ is not "easily dated by [its] technology", and doesn't "sound stale compared to modern variations."[15] Slant Magazine placed the album at number 91 on their list of the top 100 albums of the 1990s, describing it as "more fascinated by textures than almost any other electronic album ever crafted".[37] In 2015, Spin placed the album at number 71 on their list of the best albums of the past 30 years.[38] In the same year, Exclaim! listed Richard D. James Album on their list of Essential Richard D. James albums.[16] The review opined that the album was "not necessarily a release that you immediately fall in love with", but that it was "endlessly rewarding".[16]

The album was placed in numerous end-of-decade lists.[39] According to Acclaimed Music, a site which uses statistics to numerically represent reception among critics, Richard D. James Album is the 766th most celebrated album of all time, as of 2017. It is as well as James' third most acclaimed album, behind Selected Ambient Works 85–92 (1992) and Syro (2014).[39]

Usage in media and impact[edit]

Songs from the album were used on several different television ads. "To Cure a Weakling Child" was used in a high-profile UK TV advertising campaign for mobile phone company Orange. The song "4" was used in a US government anti-drug advertisement spot, as well as an advertisement in the United States for the Special Olympics. "Girl/Boy Song" was used in a Bank of America commercial.[40]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are credited as written and produced by "Me" (Richard D. James).[41]

Physical (UK)[41] and digital[42] editions
No.TitleLength
1."4"3:37
2."Cornish Acid"2:14
3."Peek 824545201"3:05
4."Fingerbib"3:48
5."Carn Marth"2:33
6."To Cure a Weakling Child"4:03
7."Goon Gumpas"2:02
8."Yellow Calx"3:04
9."Girl/Boy Song" (NLS mix)4:52
10."Logan Rock Witch"3:33
Total length:32:51

Personnel[edit]

Credits from the back cover of the album.[41]

  • Aphex Twin (credited as "Me") – writer, producer, sleeve
  • Johnny Clayton – sleeve

Charts[edit]

Year Chart Peak
position
1996 UK Albums Chart[19] 62
1997 US Top Heatseekers (Billboard)[44][45] 20

Sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] N/A 30,000[47]
Worldwide (IFPI) N/A 50,000[48]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Selected Ambient Works Volume II and ...I Care Because You Do peaked at number 11 and 24 at the UK Albums Chart, respectively.[20]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Turenne, Martin (1 April 2003). "Aphex Twin The Contrarian". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kirn 2011
  3. ^ a b Dax, Max (13 August 2013). "From the Vaults: An Interview with Aphex Twin". Electronic Beats. Archived from the original on 21 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  4. ^ Thompson, Ben (1998). "The Aphex Twin". Seven Years of Plenty. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.(subscription required)
  5. ^ Gross, Jason (September 1997). "Aphex Twin". Perfect Sound Forever. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Montesinos-Donaghy, Daniel (24 July 2014). "We Spoke to Johnny Clayton, the Guy Who Made Aphex Twin Creep Us Out". Vice. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b Weiss, Dan (4 November 2016). "Aphex Twin's 'Richard D. James Album' Is Still Inventively Immature 20 Years Later". Vice. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Bush, John. "Richard D. James Album – Aphex Twin". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  9. ^ Dombal, Ryan. "Top 40 IDM Albums". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2 May 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  10. ^ Larkin 2011
  11. ^ a b c Cole, Jake (19 October 2016). "Holy Hell! The Richard D. James Album Turns 20". Spectrum Culture. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  12. ^ Fallon, Patrick (10 October 2014). "Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album (1996)". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  13. ^ "17. Aphex Twin, 'The Richard D. James Album' (Warp, 1996)". Rolling Stone. 2 August 2012. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016.
  14. ^ Taylor 2006, pp. 13–14
  15. ^ a b c Carr, Eric (17 November 2003). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 20 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  16. ^ a b c Keating, Daryl (13 October 2015). "An Essential Guide to Richard D. James". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  17. ^ Hermes, Will (February 1997). "Aphex Twin: Richard D. James". Spin. 12 (11): 88. ISSN 0886-3032. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Aphex Twin Richard D. James Album". Warp. Archived from the original on 21 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  19. ^ a b {{cite web|url=http://www.officialcharts.com/search/albums/RICHARD%20D.%20JAMES%20ALBUM%7Cpublisher=Official Charts Company|title=Richard D. James Album|accessdate=23 April 2015|deadurl=no|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20150502121022/http://www.officialcharts.com/search/albums/RICHARD%20D.%20JAMES%20ALBUM/%7Carchivedate=2 May 2015}}
  20. ^ "Aphex Twin | Full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  21. ^ a b c Bush, John. "Richard D. James Album – Aphex Twin – Release Information, Reviews, and Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Richard D. James Album – Aphex Twin: Releases". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  23. ^ Thompson, Ben (13 January 2008). "120 essential pop albums". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 March 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  24. ^ Kaye, Ben (26 July 2012). "Aphex Twin reissues ...I Care Because You Do and Richard D. James Album". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  25. ^ Hudson, Alex (25 July 2012). "Aphex Twin's '...I Care Because You Do' and 'Richard D. James Album' Get Vinyl Reissues". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  26. ^ a b Browne, David (31 January 1997). "Richard D. James". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 19 June 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  27. ^ James, Martin (December 1996). "Aphex Twin: Richard D. James Album". Muzik (19): 136.
  28. ^ a b Schreiber, Ryan (1 November 1996). "Aphex Twin: The Richard D. James Album". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 7 March 2001. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  29. ^ a b Fine, Jason (2 January 1997). "Richard D. James Album: Aphex Twin". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  30. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (2004). "Aphex Twin". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 21–23. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  31. ^ Hermes, Will (February 1997). "Aphex Twin: Richard D. James". Spin. 12 (11): 88. ISSN 0886-3032. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  32. ^ Christgau, Robert (23 September 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  33. ^ "Records". The Independent. Independent Print Ltd. 3 November 1996. p. 26. ISSN 0951-9467.
  34. ^ Jenkins, Mark (2 February 1997). "Plain Old Common Synth". Washington Post. p. G8. Retrieved 23 April 2015. (subscription required)
  35. ^ "Albums and tracks of the year 1996". NME. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  36. ^ "1996 Rewind". The Wire. January 1997. Archived from the original on 15 February 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  37. ^ Henderson, Eric (14 February 2011). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1990s". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  38. ^ Weiss, Dan (11 May 2015). "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985–2014)". Spin. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  39. ^ a b "Aphex Twin". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  40. ^ "Space Age Bachelor article". Archived from the original on 21 May 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  41. ^ a b c "Back of album cover". Richard D. James Album (Media notes). Aphex Twin. Warp. 1996. WarpCD43.
  42. ^ "Richard D. James Album by Aphex Twin". iTunes. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  43. ^ "Back of album cover". Richard D. James Album (Media notes). Aphex Twin. Sire. 1997. CD 62010.
  44. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 15 February 1997. pp. 21–. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  45. ^ "Heatseekers Albums: Up and Coming Musicians Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  46. ^ "British album certifications – Aphex Twin – Richard D James". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select data-sort-value="" style="background: #ececec; color: #2C2C2C; vertical-align: middle; font-size: smaller; text-align: center; " class="table-na" | N/A in the Certification field. Type Richard D James in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  47. ^ "Aphex Twin – Interview". Space Age Bachelor. 25 September 1997. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  48. ^ "Aphex Twin – Interview". Space Age Bachelor. 25 September 1997. Retrieved 16 July 2018.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]