Prologue: I listened to the Come to Daddy EP for many years, but I never understood how Aphex Twin’s most popular song fit in with the rest of the EP. I found out that Richard D. James wrote Come to Daddy out of a jingle mock of death metal. I find this hilarious. I also find that song so overwhelming to my senses that I can only react with laughter. That’s why I was so surprised by the rest of this EP. James often explores laid back and pleasant atmospheres. It seems that the industrial death jingle of “Come to Daddy” isn’t the rule with Aphex Twin, as many people believe. Nevertheless, sometimes the deluge of synthetic percussion and assaultive noises of Aphex clears the room, so to speak.
Come to Daddy EP
In my updated experience, two things generally stuck out in these songs: dynamic, complex drum synths and rich ambience. The drums are so complicated that I have to pull my frame of reference pretty far back in order to get a meaningful impression. That’s not a bad thing. These drums don’t function the way drums normally do to most of us. In order to enjoy the complexity of tone, rhythm, and contrast of the drums on this album, you really need to let the sounds come to you while trying not to hold on to anything in particular.
Beyond this complexity, I loved the use of simple cymbal beats throughout this EP. These beats add a sense of urgency, but they also ground the music whenever it needs a more coherent focus (“Flim”; see especially “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball”).
When James uses wicked sounding synthesized voices in “Come to Daddy [Little Lord Faulteroy Mix]”, he hints that his sound has a life of its own. While the principle melodies and synthesized voices impart a feeling of creepiness, the ambience of the song implies a soothing reassurance. This mixture was extremely unsettling to me, but I was so impressed that James was able to create this juxtaposition that I enjoyed it much more as a result.
On the chill side, “IZ-US” impressed me more than any other song in terms of coherent melody and harmony. You don’t have to back away to enjoy this one; the strangeness of the melodic starts, stops, and swoops come much more naturally to the ears.
To sum it up, this is very interesting and thoughtful music, but it probably requires a backed off frame of reference for the enjoyment by the uninitiated (or so I assume). Even without mention of this frame of reference theory of enjoyment, this EP stands out from any electronic music I have ever heard. I’m no expert on whatever the Aphex Twin-listening public calls this music, but I can conclude that the Come to Daddy EP is a very stimulating piece of work. It invaded my feelings and unsettled me or excited me, basically whatever James wanted to do with me.
3 out of 5 stars
Epilogue: I usually stray away from critique and towards appreciation when I write about music that most people don’t enjoy. I couch my own criticisms in the context of how I believe this kind of music could be enjoyed. My personal mode of music appreciation is stylistically neutral. I don’t hold any style to be inherently superior to another. Chuck Klosterman criticized this kind of musical taste as an inability to love any type of music. However, Klosterman’s view of devotion to music is more of a pop cultural view than musical. In all practicality, Klosterman lies at one extreme and I lie at another. I simply hope that my descriptions of music that you don’t enjoy or haven’t heard piques your interest enough to listen and to try and think about music differently in general.