Richard D. James Album
|Richard D. James Album|
|Studio album by Aphex Twin|
|Released||4 November 1996|
|Producer||Richard D. James|
|Aphex Twin chronology|
Richard D. James Album is the fourth studio album by English electronic musician Richard D. James under the alias Aphex Twin, released on Warp Records in 1996. The album's music was produced and recorded by James and was a step away from the ambient music on his previous releases and more influenced by jungle music.
The album charted in the United Kingdom peaking at number 62 on the UK Albums Chart. The American release of the album included the Girl/Boy EP as bonus tracks. The album received positive reviews from sources ranging from Spin, Robert Christgau, The Independent and the NME who placed the album on their list of the 50 best albums of 1996.
James has stated that most of Richard D. James Album was composed on his Macintosh computer and that the album took longer to create than any of his previous albums. Some tracks on the album include vocals from James including "To Cure a Weakling Child", for which James manipulated his voice to sound like a child giving a lecture about arms and legs. Tracks from the American edition of the album such as "Milkman", which have Richard singing, were modulated on a computer as well.
For the orchestral arrangements on the album, James bought a violin at a car boot sale. James taught himself to play a note from the instrument by placing it on a table, playing a note and sampling it for the album.
The drum programming on the album was inspired by James' friend Luke Vibert. James described that he used to have it a "much slower pace" but that Vibert "really 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, basically" James also noted the influence of his friend Tom Jenkinson in 1997, "There's a lot of music around that I quite like, but nothing that inspires me [...] the only two people around who are consistent enough for me are Luke Vibert [a.k.a. Wagon Christ and Plug] and Tom Jenkinson [Squarepusher] - they haven't faulted at all over the past year."
The cover art for both ...I Care Because You Do and Richard D. James Album is credited to both James and Johnny Clayton. Clayton did not accept credit for either of the albums' covers, 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. And also, when he was selling gear online, stuff that he was handwriting on was propelling the value of the equipment, so we thought to just use his own handwriting on the cover."
A sample of "4", a track that features slower melodies underneath faster paced break beats.
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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 that were layered over his slower melodies that characterised James' earlier ambient works. Pitchfork opined that the album was one of the "aggressive combinations of disparate electronic forms when it was released", with its "almost-brutal contrast between its elements creates a seal that's locked in freshness since way back in 1996." Exclaim! commented that tracks such as "Girl/Boy Song", "Yellow Calx", and "Peek 824545201" were "loosely based on jungle, though in a lot of cases you'd have to concentrate quite hard to notice the similarities." 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, recycling 'em, basically mashing 'em up and making something different".
The American version included the Girl/Boy EP as bonus tracks. It was released on 28 January 1997 by Sire Records. The album was released on compact disc, cassette and gramophone record. Along with ...I Care Because You Do, Richard D. James Album was re-issued on vinyl on 18 September 2012 by record label 1972. Warp announced their own re-issue of the album on 180-gram vinyl for 8 October 2012.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
In the United Kingdom, The Independent gave the album a positive review, stating that "The intuitive sense of melody [James] 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". The NME placed the album at number 20 on their list of the best albums of 1996. The Wire also listed the album among their top 50 albums of the year for 1996.
In North America, Pitchfork Media 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 "what really threw me was the damn beats which are all fucking over the place. Just when your brain starts to comprehend a rhythmic pattern, the beat shifts, turns left and crushes your torso under the steering wheel." Rolling Stone gave the album three and a half stars out of five, commenting that "Aphex Twin coaxes great emotional resonance from his machines. During the album's most lyrical moments – the delicately brooding "Yellow Calx" and the lusty "Girl/Boy Song" – the dance-floor Wunderkind seems poised to reinvent himself as techno's first poet." He also commented "Not all of Richard D. James goes down easy", explaining that there is "menace lurking beneath the jerking beat of "Peek 824545201". Entertainment Weekly awarded the album an A-, calling it James' "quirkiest, most personal work" and that "tracks like 4 and Girl/Boy Song reveal a new warmth and wistfulness, thanks to synthesized string sections that sound radiantly real." The Washington Post gave the album a negative review, referring to the music as "sloppy offhand". The review compared the album to the style of the duo Spring Heel Jack, stating that "where that duo achieves depth and sheen...James often prefers a noisy mess" and that James' music "too often sounds like a private joke".
In 2003, Pitchfork listed their top albums of the 1990s, with Richard D. James Album ranking at 40. Pitchfork stated that "Other, less-inspired compositions from this era are often too easily dated by their technology, and sound stale compared to modern variations; RDJ is one of the most impressive exceptions." 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" In 2015, Spin placed the album at number 71 on their list of the best albums of the past 30 years. Exclaim! listed Richard D. James Album on their list of Essential Richard D. James albums in 2015. The review opined that the album was "jam-packed full of some of the most enthralling tracks of his career. Sure, it's not necessarily a release that you immediately fall in love with, but once you've given it the time, RDJ Album is endlessly rewarding."
Usage in media and impact
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.
All tracks are credited as written and produced by "Me" (Richard D. James).
|6.||"To Cure a Weakling Child"||4:03|
|9.||"Girl/Boy Song" (NLS mix)||4:52|
|10.||"Logan Rock Witch"||3:33|
|American version bonus tracks (Girl/Boy EP)|
|13.||"Girl/Boy" (£18 Snare Rush mix)||1:57|
|15.||"Girl/Boy" (Redruth mix)||1:37|
Credits from the back cover of the album.
- Me (Aphex Twin) – writer, producer, sleeve
- Johnny Clayton – sleeve
|1996||UK Albums Chart||62|
|1997||US Top Heatseekers (Billboard)||20|
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