SYRO’s packaging (see picture below) is amusing. It looks like a lengthy supermarket receipt, and breaks down the retail price of the release into very small bits. Apparently, my 12 quid (or whatever it was, maybe a tenner) included these contributions towards the following:
£0.08256 for the disc itself
£0.00133 for journalist travel expenses between Paris and London
£1.0989 for royalty to Richard 50%
Among the 200+ things listed in the itemization, none of them appears to be a joke. But there is a sense of play here. Are we meant to guess the price of a Eurostar ticket from Gare du Nord to St Pancras, add in the expensive breakfasts served on the train, plus maybe a taxi fare from King’s Cross to the location of an interview? And then divide this by £0.00133 to arrive at the magical number of the initial print run? I know I won’t – but hey, that’s just me.
The record itself is immune to reviews. Words just seem to bounce off it. Some have valiantly given it a shot, though, and here are a few of my favourite bits from reviews:
“Addictive surround-sound electro-funk“
(Adam Workman, The National, United Arab Emirates)
“The physical act of reviewing Aphex Twin has often been the sonic equivalent of describing a hitherto-undiscovered chemical element”
(The National, UAE)
“Almost plays like a greatest hits set”
(Mike Diver, Clash magazine)
(Note: I like this quote as I have no idea – none! – what that actually means,
which is a good thing, I reckon!)
” … imagine the world of music as a Gotham-like city with all its players and fakers, but now, here, instead of the Batman logo projected above the rooftops we have RDJ’s grinning face. A not exactly benign presence”
(Amazon UK reviewer)
I love records that are impossible to describe, because it tests your abilities of description to the limit. It also means you have to dispense with trusty old standbys like comparison to another artist. Either you get it or you don’t. If you do, you can’t say quite why you do. And if you don’t you’re like “there’s nothing to get”.
This is how I would review SYRO.
On first listen it sounded dense. By the tenth listen (out of about 15 or 16 listens so far) it was making less sense every time I heard it. Compositions seem to start about a third of the way through. Old music making equipment sounds seem to have been recorded using old recording equipment, then had some (not all) of the dust wiped off with newer technology, so it sounds both retro and now at the same time, and neither. So far, so fucking weird.
Dense as in layered and detailed. Not dense as in inaccessible. I’m fairly sure four of the tracks are actually two versions of two tracks each. Maybe, maybe not.
A really, truly, great and amazing work is SYRO. Maybe in around ten years or so I will have a proper review ready. For now, this is a journey into synaesthesic sound, short-span time travel and strange corridor dreams that you don’t remember the next morning but instead form a generalised part of consciousness. And if that sounds pseudy, just wait for my review of the next one.