Aphex Twin has a reputation for being on the cutting edge, and this album, his first in thirteen years, provides an insight into how music has changed during that time.
Taking a track-by-track approach is difficult on Syro as the album often seems to merge into one long tune, in a very positive sense. Indeed, listening there are certain similarities with the single-track progressive rock albums of the 1970s. Throughout Syro there are a multitude of different sounds, tunes and beats all happening at once, and it is worth concentrating on each track to fully appreciate the complexity of the production. One can tell that Aphex Twin used his extended break from producing albums to carefully plan how this album would sound. This is not simply just random electronic music; there is a reassuring amount of sophistication involved.
Although best to consider the album as whole, title track “syro u473t8+e” is a standout. With a mix of styles, the song varies from 80s synth piano segments to grime sequences. The opening song, and first single, “minipops 67” is also impressive. Mellower than the rest of the album, it has an infectious groove.
This album is good working or jogging music. From a tame start Syro gradually becomes more up-tempo, and combined with the complexity of the music, the result is not really a chill-out album.
For general listening the album could perhaps have been improved with the presence of a few more slightly calmer songs further down the order. Regardless, this is high quality and progressive electronic music and will certainly be enjoyed by enthusiasts.
Comparing this album with 2001’s drukQs it is fascinating to hear the influence of the new styles and sounds that have emerged over the last decade. The music has become much more punchier, sharper and more frenetic.