All the rhythmic and non sequitur magic of Aphex Twin music is present in "Windowlicker," but it brings in some melodic chops as well, pushing this as close to a traditional hit single as electronic music composer Aphex Twin will ever experience.
The virtuoso time-splicing opening drum fanfare reminds everyone just who we're dealing with, in case we forget while we're treated to a four-minute zombie dance. Nothing simply just unfolds in a linear way, of course, so in the midst of the lurching shuffle, we have additional detours into some mightily proficient space funk, a completely fractured cadenza, and other pure imagination.
As a rocker at heart, I melt at the use of distorted guitars in the final passage. The distortion intensifies into a screaming static force field, pure sarcasm.
The 1990s witnessed a strange phenomenon. The decade started off strong as the era of grunge and other brash, principled, inventive alternative rock. But the suicide of Kurt Cobain left the music world in shambles, and the middle part of the decade briefly became a rudderless nightmare of Bush, Hootie and the Blowfish, the Backstreet Boys, Chris Gaines, and Smashing Pumpkins attempting dollar store industrial music for the worst Batman movie ever made. All the electronics had black exteriors.
But help came from the most unlikely of places, a largely European wave of colorful electronic surrealists, trading in a momentous, abstract strangeness that turned the last years of the 1990s into a bizarro disco reawakening. We had Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, Bjork, the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and so many other greats leading music out of the mosh pits and onto darkly glowing dance floors. (The U.S. was also represented by folks like Moby and I'd even argue a matured Beck.) Even the greatest rock band of the late '90s, Radiohead, eschewed heaviness for spaced-out arrangements that fully welcomed electronic sounds.
The decade opened with folks slam dancing in flannels and closed with humanoids conga lining in space suits. One moment, Eddie Vedder dangling from PA speakers; the next, Richard D. James's face spliced onto sexy dancers.
And Steve Jobs returned to Apple.
Someone's always dreaming.