V/Vm ~ HelpAphexTwin4.0
- Graphically. Prominent use of dollar signs
- Textually. The subtitle of this album is ‘we don’t care because you don’t give a fuck’, tracks are called ‘if I were a rickyham’, ‘laughing all the way to his tank’, ‘druNQs’, etc, etc
- Sonically. Any Aphex tracks still recognisable sound like a shadow of their former selves. The process of dismemberment, scuzzing, slashing and mugging is not a pretty one to behold. After the ‘treatment’, the music frequently sounds two dimensional like the Wild West town in Blazing Saddles that’s just façade, nothing but scrubland behind. Numerous samples are thrown in (showing V/Vm’s customary disregard for copyright): Abba’s Money, Money, Money, Fiddler on the Roof’s If I Were a Rich Man. There are a lot more.
HelpAphexTwin4.0 can’t help but spark a dialogue about James’
public image. Some of the reviews of 26 Mixes for Cash have contained an
undertone of affront at his projected mercenariness (one even complained
that he was not intellectual enough…) HelpAphexTwin4.0 condenses and
hones this response into a scathing diatribe.
The album ends with the following lyric: ‘see you at the crossroads… what you going to do when judgement comes for you’. If this cd is a court of law, V/Vm have donned wig and gown and simultaneously sat in the jury box. The verdict is inevitable. The comprehensiveness of their sentence and the depth of their scorn makes the whole thing difficult to dismiss. The process takes on a wilfull grandeur all its own.
Alternatively, you might view the whole endeavour as a playground spat where the clever kid gets too big for his boots and is slapped down by the big boys (or the big kid gets slapped down by the clever kids depending on your point of view).
Some things are more powerful away from direct experience, once they come to reside in memory. Is the music on HelpAphexTwin4.0 interesting in its own right or does its value lie mainly in the gestural quality and dialogue it establishes? If you want an answer buy the cd and make your own mind up – at least that’s what I’d expect V/Vm to say (but wouldn’t that be a touch mercenary too?)