Considering how far I’d once tread down his wormhole, I was surprised to find that I’d missed out on the whole “The Tuss is really Richard D. James” intrigue. For AFX (née Aphex Twin…) followers, even semi-confirmed stirrings from our fave ginger haired scientist are mega. With live gigs (particularly in America…) being unreliable and interviews scarce, I would have hoped that something along the lines of an entirely new identity would have somehow made its way to me via the Interweb sooner than two years after the arrival of a mysterious new EP.
Perhaps I’d lowered my antenna because of the less than keen reaction I had to 2001’s “drukqs” LP – the last official release under his traditionally recognized moniker. Released as a pair of CDs that had the weight of contractual obligation to them, the music was not so much impenetrable as it was…er, uneventful. Three years later came the Analord series – limited edition vinyls that were a mixed bag of high highs (“Crying In Your Face,” “Where’s Your Girlfriend?”) and also rans (“Phonatacid”). Eventually being partially compiled on the “Chosen Lords” CD, the music more than sustains itself over the 11 original wax releases. Then…nothing until 2007.
That’s when the heavies at Rephlex Records released the “Confederation Trough EP” along with firm denials that this was indeed “not” the work of Herr Dice Man. It was followed a bit more than a month later by the “Rushup Edge” album. Supposedly the work of the Tregaskin family, the title track is registered to the Twin in the BMI song database and the supposed presence on at least one track of the uber-rare Yamaha GX1 synth (a rare beast that was once part of the Abba arsenal of keyboards), made fans thing otherwise. Guilty or not, the material is fresh, invigorating in places and draws a direct sonic line to some of the music that grew out of the Analord series. Even more enjoyable are the extended boundaries of the joke where the masquerade has either gone further or has simply fallen into the hands of MySpace imposters (The Tsss, The Tusk, Tusticles, The Tussy…). A good jumping off point might be here or more “officially” here
I spoke to the real Richard James once over a distressed international phone line sometime in the mid to late-90’s. It’s been years since I’ve seen that particular microcassette but I’m assuming that it was just around the time of the “I Care Because You Do” record, since I don’t recall talking about Chris Cunningham’s infamous “Come To Daddy” that made AFX something more of a global concern not long after. My memory of our chat is that he was polite, retiring, and that when he wasn’t worrying the neighbors with what leaked out of his studio he was mostly busy coming up with his own music software. The only time he got particularly animated was when I asked him about the “Ventolin” track and mentioned to him that I too was a fellow asthma sufferer. Right around the same time I saw him do an opening DJ slot for Bjork at the Masquerade club in Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently it was early August as per online resources. Richard came onstage, acknowledged no one, and proceeded to fill the room with the sound of a hundred bleating toads.