In a career filled with re-invention, Aphex Twin comes full circle, with an album named after his real-life identity, RICHARD D. JAMES. James performs his usual boundary-jumping, genre-crashing magic, constantly changing gears and never standing still. Melodies are drawn from an infinite variety of sonic sources and juxtaposed with harsh, stuttering breakbeats and placid keyboards in ever-changing permutations.
James manages to coax a wide range of emotion from his synthesizers, from the whimsical, playful melodic line which introduces "4." to the harsh beat and angular accompaniment of "Cornish Acid." "Peek 824545201" throws down a skittish, slithering beat, while "Corn Mouth" is a jumble of techno shrapnel. "To Cure A Weaking Child" makes haunting use of sampled voices of children, reassembling them into words and repeated phrases. Drums and keyboard sounds meld into one another freely and playfully. James further showcases his ability to recycle traditional sounds into altogether new forms with the string arrangements of "Goon Gumpas" and "Girl/Boy Song," but nowhere is this gift utilized more effectively than in "Logan Rock Witch," whose goofy rhythm and church organ support a chiming, sparse, guitar-like melody line.
Rolling Stone (1/23/97, pp.62-63) - 3.5 Stars (out of 5) - "...combining jolting beats, pristine melodic fragments and random noises into elegant--if at times unnerving--futuristic pop....manipulates his infinite palette of tweaked synth tones like a classical composer arranges a string section..."
Spin (2/97, p.88) - 7 (out of 10) - "...in bringing dreaded Meaning to a genre born to deny it, James again removes all bets on what DJ music might become....This is the touching sound of another shut-in boy genius disappearing down his own ear canals in an effort to connect with the world..."
Entertainment Weekly (1/31/97, p.58) - "...his quirkiest, most personal work....If machines could joke or cry, this is how they would sound."