- Serge Gainsbourg, Brian Eno, Erik Satie, 808 State, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert, Vince Clarke, Ween, Kraftwerk...
Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), better known as Aphex Twin (amongst other stage names), is an Irish-born English electronic musician, as well as the founder of the now-defunct Rephlex Records label. He was raised and spent much of his career based in Cornwall, England but currently resides in Glasgow, Scotland.
James is highly known and respected for his innovations in the world of electronic music and the sheer volume and versatility of his output, to the point where he's often regarded as one of the most influential artists of the umbrella genre's modern era, if not the most. His experimentation with sounds and visuals has built a surreal, idiosyncratic style, and his individual persona — eccentric and reclusive, with any information about his personal life muddled up with lies he tells For the Lulz — is arguably just as weird.
James started making music at the age of 11 by tinkering with one of his home computers, and hasn't looked back since. After some years of false starts, his first album Selected Ambient Works 85-92 was released on 1992 (a year after he started Rephlex Records) to overwhelming critical praise, setting him on the path to widespread recognition. Retrospective consensus deemed the album's success a watershed moment for the transition of electronic music to the mainstream, and the album itself an effective blueprint for the whole braindance note movement.
While James is known in some ways as a Trope Maker for ambient techno thanks to the aforementioned SAW 85-92, his material is very diverse, ranging between pure ambient (SAW Vol. II), sad and beautiful Lonely Piano Pieces (most of them on drukQs), ear-splitting drum 'n' bass (...I Care Because You Do, the Come to Daddy EP, some songs in drukQs), acid techno (his early AFX/Caustic Window material, plus the Analord 12" series), and his trademark combination of upbeat melodies with complicated beats (Richard D. James Album, drukQs). His 2014 album Syro (his first full-length release in 13 years!) falls somewhere in between the last two styles.
As of 2017, James has put up a personal Bleep store with which he aims to rerelease all of his past discography on Warp, including various new bonus tracks within the releases in the process.
He has accounts under the Aphex name on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud that are strictly for promotional purposes. The closest thing he has to a regular public profile at the moment is his personal SoundCloud, where he notably uploaded hundreds of demos and unreleased tracks completely anonymously in the mid-2010s. He still updates the profile occasionally to this day, even conversing with fans in comment sections.
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- Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)
- Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)
- ...I Care Because You Do (1995)
- Melodies From Mars (1995) (unreleased; however, Richard has suggested in an interview that he is remaking it and planning an official release)
- Richard D. James Album (1996)
- drukQs (2001)
- Syro (2014)
- Digeridoo (1992)
- Xylem Tube (1992)
- On (1993)
- Ventolin (1995)
- Donkey Rhubarb (1995)
- Girl/Boy (1996)
- Come to Daddy (1997)
- Windowlicker (1999)
- Analord 10 (2005)
- Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 (2015)
- Cheetah (2016)
- Collapse (2018)
- bbox.l.r. (2023)note
- Classics (1994)
- 51/13: Aphex Singles Collection (1996)
- 26 Mixes for Cash (2003)
- Chosen Lords (2006)
- Analogue Bubblebath (1991)
- Analogue Bubblebath 2 (1991)
- Analogue Bubblebath 3 (1992)
- Analogue Bubblebath 4 (1994)
- Analogue Bubblebath 5 (1995)
- Hangable Auto Bulb EP (1995)
- Hangable Auto Bulb EP 2 (1995)
- Analogue Bubblebath 3.1 (1997)
- Smojphace EP (2003)
- Analords 1-9, 11 (2005)
- AFX / LFO|AFX / LFO split 12" (2005)
- Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-2008 (2015)
- Hangable Auto Bulb (1995 and 2005 re-release)
- Chosen Lords (2006)
- 2 Remixes by AFX (2001)
- Untitled (1994) (formerly unreleased, finally released in 2014)
- Joyrex J4 EP (1992)
- Joyrex J5 EP (1992)
- Joyrex J9ii (1993)
- Joyrex J9i (1993)
- Compilation (1998)
As Bradley Strider
- Bradley's Beat (1991)
- Bradley's Robot (1993)
- GAK (1994)
As Green Calx
- Green Calx (1993) (unreleased)
As Polygon Window
- Surfing on Sine Waves (1993)
- Quoth (1993)
- Pac-Man (1992)
- Q-Chastic EP (1992) (unreleased)
As The Tuss
- Confederation Trough EP (2007)
- Rushup Edge (2007)
- Mike (μ-Ziq) & Rich:
- Expert Knob Twiddlers (1996)
- Absurdly-Long Limousine: In the music video for "Windowlicker", Richard arrives in a white limousine that has 38 windows and takes 20 seconds to fully show.
- Affectionate Parody: The cover art◊ for Expert Knob Twiddlers (his collaborative album with famous IDM artist μ-Ziq) parodies the box art◊ for the Milton Bradley game Downfall.
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: He owns a Daimler Ferret MK3 armoured car.
- Bears Are Bad News: The "Rhubears" in the "Donkey Rhubarb" video, which all have Richard's face (or rather, the painting of his face from the cover of I Care Because You Do) plastered onto them.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Syro contains some weird samples spoken in Russian, like Псевдо-растяжение звука во времени ("Pseudo stretching of sound in time") or Носочки ("Little socks").
- Examples also abound in drukQs, which feature most of its track names in Cornish dialect or Kernawek (modern Cornish). Here is a list of translations on a WATMM forum post.
- Blatant Lies: Richard's well known for deliberately misleading both the press and his fans with very bizarre lies. He has claimed, amongst other things, to sleep only around 3 hours a night, as well as the ownership of a large square building with no windows in the middle of a South London roundabout (it actually contains a power transformer).
- Body Horror: It would be easier to list examples of his videos that don't invoke this trope.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- Consider the lyrics to the song "Milkman", sung in a odd monotone-yet-cheerful jingle.I wish the milkman would deliver my milk in the morning
I wish the milkman would deliver my milk when I'm yawning
I would like some milk from the milkman's wife's tits...
- A more jarring version appears on "Funny Little Man." The song proper isn't all that bad, assuming you don't mind that a pitched-up, autotuned James sounds exactly like Rolf on acid, but what follows is a Plaintalk program threatening to sodomize, stalk, and castrate the listener before eating their genitals.
- Consider the lyrics to the song "Milkman", sung in a odd monotone-yet-cheerful jingle.
- Broken Record:
- "Come To Daddy". Its sole lyrics are "I want your soul/I will eat your soul", aside from a part where the song title is repeated over and over again...
- "Milkman" alternates between repeating "I wish the milkman would deliver my milk in the morning / I wish the milkman would deliver my milk when I'm yawning" and repeating "I would like some milk from the milkman's wife's tits".
- The modulated child voice in "Funny Little Man" spends a lot of the song repeatedly saying "Come on, you little funny man!"
- Brutal Honesty: Subverted; 26 Mixes for Cash sounds like this with its title, but in actuality (as explained by Richard on his SoundCloud), the title is based on Richard exchanging DATs for cash rather than with cards so that record companies wouldn't know his bank account information.
- Butter Face: Used infamously in the music video (and single cover) for "Windowlicker", which is full of scantily-clad women...that all have Richard's face and creepy grin.
- The random snippet of children's lullaby music that famously halts the "Come to Daddy" video is ripped straight from "Isoprophlex", a cut from Richard's early-90s acid techno days, where it's used to equally jarring effect.
- The last track on drukQs is called "Nanou2", which is seemingly a sequel to the closing track on the Windowlicker EP, titled "Nannou."
- Careful with That Axe: One of the most famous parts of "Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)" is a horrific, anguished 34-second scream (actually composed of four screams following each other in quick succession) near the end of the song that is presumably from Richard himself.
- Child Prodigy:
- At age 11, Richard tinkered around with a Sinclair ZX81 computer and wound up writing a program that caused it to produce sound, even though they lack sound hardware. (He reportedly even won 50 pounds for it.) However, he didn't gain his skills as a musician until later on, as the GAK demos prove.
- If you take the SAW 85-92 title into thought, that means that some of the oldest tracks on that album were made when Richard was only 14.
- In an interview, Richard said that his son had downloaded music software from the Pirate Bay and put some songs he made on Bandcamp, although he was only 5 at the time. Some of those tracks, namely "The Best Track", "Rock Up", "Jiper" and "Up in the Rocks", would wind up appearing in the SoundCloud dump, being tagged as songs made by "AFX Jnr" (AFX Junior).
- Cloudcuckoolander: Assumed by many due to his eccentric public persona, due to the anecdotes he's told and his overall surreal aesthetic.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The first half of the "Windowlicker" video contains 127 swears, 44 of which are just the word "fuck".
- Country Matters:
- The only other lyric besides "Tricks!" in the track "Cock/ver10" from drukQs, "COME ON, YOU CUNT, LET'S HAVE SOME APHEX ACID!", is screamed in the middle of the track. It was also a phrase used in promotion for the album.
- The penultimate track on the Caustic Window LP is titled "Cunt".
- Credits Gag: The "Windowlicker" video features a disclaimer that "any identifications with or similarity to actual persons, living or dead or to actual events is completely intentional."
- Cross-Referenced Titles: "Green Calx" on SAW 85-92, "Blue Calx" on SAW Volume II, "Yellow Calx" on Richard D. James Album, and "4 Red Calx" from his SoundCloud tracks.
- Dedication: The name Aphex Twin is dedicated to his older brother, also named Richard D. James, who died during childbirth.
- Decon-Recon Switch: The "Windowlicker" video is designed as a tongue-in-cheek satire of the rap videos that were coming out at the time (late 1990s), and follows this format. It starts by deconstructing a standard rap video premise with two foul-mouthed young men in a Mazda coming across two women on the street that they try to pick up. In a normal video, the men would probably score them with ease, but in this video, the women aren't having it for a second and repeatedly shoot them down. This then leads to a ridiculously exaggerated reconstruction once Richard enters the video; he steps out of an Absurdly-Long Limousine and surrounds himself with beautiful dancing women as the camera gratuitously ogles over their bodies...but the women all have his face, as if to lampoon the rampant narcissism of the male subjects in these videos.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The Come to Daddy EP cover.
- Digital Head Swap: The cover for "Windowlicker" puts his bearded face on a bikini-clad girl.
- Used to even more disturbing effect in the music video. Even worse about the video is that those are real masks.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Allegedly the message behind Analord 8, 9, and 11 all having tracks with names based on malware.
- Distinct Double Album: Selected Ambient Works Volume II and drukQs.
- Drone of Dread: Selected Ambient Works Volume II alternates between what most people think of when they hear the words "ambient music" and this trope, making for music that is at once ethereal and ominous. A good example of this trope in play on the album is "Stone in Focus", which actually combines the two categories.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Strangely inverted with Selected Ambient Works 85–92, which is not only his most acclaimed album to date by fans and critics, but also the most normal compared to his later ventures into dark ambient and IDM, which got progressively weirder and weirder.
- Easter Egg:
- "[Equation]" notably ends with a sequence of strange noises; when run through a logarithmic spectrogram, it reveals that the sounds contain a spectrograph of Richard's facenote .
- An image of a spiral is responsible for the signature squeal at the end of "Windowlicker".
- Epic Rocking: Richard loves his long songs.
- The entirety of SAW 85-92 except for "i", which is justified since it's an ambient interlude. The longest track is "Tha" at just over 9 minutes.
- The amount of SAW Volume II tracks that are less than five minutes long can be counted on one hand ("Hankie", "White Blur 1", "Grey Stripe", "Z Twig", "Lichen"). The longest track is "White Blur 2" at eleven-and-a-half minutes long.
- 7 out of the 12 tracks on ...I Care Because You Do are over 5 minutes long, with the opening track "Acrid Avid Jam Shred" as the longest (7:38).
- One of the bonus tracks included in the 2017 rerelease, "sekonda 3, +2", clocks in at just under 11 minutes long.
- 8 out of the 30 tracks on drukQs are over 5 minutes long, with the 8.5-minute long "Ziggomatic 17" as the longest.
- 7 out of the 12 tracks on Syro are over 5 minutes long, with the 10.5-minute long "XMAS_EVET10  (thanaton3 mix)" being the longest.
- On the Windowlicker EP, the Title Track as well as "Equation" are both around 6 minutes long.
- "Digeridoo" is 7 minutes and 11 seconds long.
- "Dodeccaheedron" on the Xylem Tube EP is just over 6 minutes.
- Two thirds of the original '93 release of Surfing on Sine Waves, with the longest track being the 7-minute "If It Really Is Me".
- Quoth EP had the 8-minute Wooden Thump mix of "Quoth."
- Half of Rushup Edge was over six minutes long, with another track being over 5 minutes. The longest was "Last Rushup 10" (6:36).
- Half of 26 Mixes for Cash was over 5 minutes long, with the longest being the 10-minute "Journey, Aphex Twin Care Mix".
- On EP had the 7-minute Title Track and the 7-minute "D-Scape", as well as all of the remixes. The longest was the D-Scape mix at almost 11 minutes.
- The Salbutamol, Crowsmengegus, Wheeze, Cylob, and Deep Gong mixes of "Ventolin".
- "MARCHROMT30A edit 2b 96", the Japanese bonus track of Syro, is 7 minutes and 19 seconds long.
- Everyone Has Standards: Although Richard has a reputation of being a Jerkass (see below), he was upset that Kanye West tried to sample "Avril 14th" on his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy song "Blame Game" without his permission or help (even when James offered to rerecord the song in a different tempo). It would eventually lead to West's team to use a rerecording instead of the sample, with James being given proper credit.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: In the "Come to Daddy" video, an old woman's dog barks aggressively at a TV when an evil spirit inside it begins coming to life to the point that the old woman can no longer restrain the dog.
- The Faceless: Defied via inversion. Richard has stated that due to faceless anonymity being a norm of techno at the time of his rise to fame, he responded by putting his face in every conceivable place.
- Face-Revealing Turn: The "Windowlicker" video contains a particularly (in)famous instance among one of the most, er, memorable examples of Butter Face in music video history. In one sequence, the attention is centered on a seemingly attractive dancing woman, as the camera focuses on her body (specifically her butt), keeping her head out of the frame. She then turns around, revealing a horrifically ugly face.
- Fading into the Next Song: On Richard D. James Album, "Cornish Acid" ends with the same monotone hum that begins "Peek 824545201", and in turn the next track "Fingerbib" also contains the same hum, although it's fragmented and practically inaudible without headphones.
- Fan Disservice: The music video of "Windowlicker" has the girls' faces transforming into that of Richard's Slasher Smile grin and a really hideous woman near the end.
- The cover art for the single is a woman in a bikini with large breasts, with Richard's face superimposed over hers.
- Funny Background Event: Let's take a look at the Come to Daddy EP. A bunch of kids with Richard's face creepily grinning at you and... what's that on the far left? A kid doing a gang sign?
- George Lucas Altered Version: Following the creation of his personal Bleep store, many of Richard's rereleased albums had tracks from their respective development periods (many of which originating from his Soundcloud dump) put in as bonus tracks. ...I Care Because You Do, in particular, has almost 45 minutes of new content added to it.
- Genre-Busting/Genre Roulette: His discography is one of the most diverse ones in electronic music history, ranging from blissful ambient music to piano pieces to archetypal IDM to horrifying beat-sliced madness, as well as basically everything in between. His albums are also prone for swapping between musical styles and genres at the drop of a hat between tracks, or perhaps within a single track.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language:
- Hidden Depths: Besides producing music, Richard's also a pretty good singer (as shown in "Milkman" and "Beetles") and apparently painted the painting of him that's on the cover of 'I Care Because You Do.
- Humanoid Abomination: How Richard D. James often likes to portray himself and others in his videos.
- Idiosyncratic Song Naming: The more nonsensical titles on any given album are bound to have a theme:
- The titles of the tracks on Selected Ambient Works Volume II are not so much names as they are photographs. This was done to all tracks except "Blue Calx" (which follows its own discography-wide "Calx" theme with several other songs).
- Several of the titles on Hangable Auto Bulb and I Care Because You Do are anagrams of phrases pertinent to Aphex Twin.
- Several track titles on drukQs are in Cornish. Throughout his career there have also been numerous titles referring to places in Cornwall.
- Analord 8, 9, and 11 all have tracks named after or akin to malware. This was apparently an attempt to discourage piracy.
- All of the Syro tracks have nonsensically chosen names that also feature the BPM in brackets. Some of them also claim to be mixes, and others are named after the equipment and programs James has used.
- I Have Many Names: Aphex Twin, AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Caustic Window, DJ Smojphace, GAK, Martin Tressider, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Pritchad G. Kraymes,note Prichard D. Jams, Q-Chastic, Tahnaiya Russell, The Dice Man, Soit P.P., user18081971, The Tuss, and, by extension, both Brian and Karen Tregaskin.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Heard at circa two minutes in "Windowlicker". Obviously the sexual moan is chopped up to go in rhythm with the song.
- In Name Only: Several (but not all) of his "remixes" are actually original works. For example, the Little Lord Faulteroy and Mummy mixes of "Come to Daddy".
- Insistent Terminology: He is one of many IDM musicians who insist it be called braindance, on the grounds that the term "intelligent dance music" has elitist connotations.
- Intentionally Awkward Title: It's bad enough that he has songs called things like "Cunt", "Death Fuck" and "Come On You Slags!", not to mention things like "Backdoor.Spybooter.A" and ""PWSteal.Bancos.Q". But it's taken further with titles like "Kladfvgbung Micshk", "Beskhu3epnm", and "s950tx16wasr10". Not forgetting the one that's a complex mathematical equation.
- It's All About Me: Ridiculously exaggerated in the "Windowlicker" video to show how ridiculous the trope's use in rap videos is.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: There are a variety of stories, both confirmed and unconfirmed, about Richard being rude or spiteful to people; however, he has shown himself to be nicer.
- When requested to remix a song for Madonna, he said that he would only agree if she were to portray herself as a pig on one of his songs.
- When a representative for the band The Lemonheads came to his house one morning asking for the remix he was commissioned to do, he went to his studio, ripped a random song which was irrelevant to the song he was requested to do, and gave it to him in exchange for thousands of dollars. Supposedly, this was due to Aphex completely forgetting about the remix he was commissioned to do, but apparently, he didn't demand money.note
- Heart of gold:
- Oddly enough, when there was a snafu regarding The Lonely Island sampling "Avril 14th" for their song "Iran (So Far Away)", he didn't mind and was "cool" about the whole thing. His label, however, wasn't.
- He once criticized the description of his music as "intelligent dance music", as it implied everyone else's music was stupid, before joking it was "really nasty".
- Kubrick Stare: Richard sure likes to show off his creepy smile at this angle, with the Richard D. James Album cover being a prime example.
- Letting the Air out of the Band: "Peek 824545201" ends by decreasing in tempo, its frenetic mechanical beat slowing to a crawl.
- Light Is Not Good: In 'Windowlicker', James' clothes, umbrella, and limo are stark white.
- Long List: The packaging for Syro is a visual version of this trope, displaying the full manufacturing costs for one copy of the album (which changes based on whether it's the CD or the vinyl.) It includes items such as, "Outdoor postering in Italy", "Hotel in Seattle for album playback meeting" and "Royalty to Richard (50%)." Apparently, Aphex makes £1.0989 per CD sold. The list is long enough that its small print takes five CD pages and all 3 vinyl panels to display.
- Lonely Piano Piece:
- drukQs alternates between pounding breakcore and songs of this variant. Examples include the most famous of the bunch, "Avril 14th", as well as "Strotha Tynhe", "Petiatil Cx Htdui", and the album's finale "nanou2".
- There's also "Piano Un10 It Happened" off of Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2.
- "Aisatsana", the final track of Syro.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Milkman", which, despite the lewd lyrics, has a melody reminiscent of children's music.
- Meaningful Name: "Windowlicker". The French term for window shopping is "faire du lèche-vitrine", which literally translates to "licking the windows", while the song name also ties into the derogatory epithet.
- Mickey Mousing: Whenever there's dancing in the "Windowlicker" video, it's always perfectly synchronized to the music, especially the dancing Richard and his...phallic umbrella.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The out-of-print second Come to Daddy CD has a cover of all orange with the words "An image of children chasing after an ice-cream van from an Orange TV commercial advertising Text Messaging" on top of it. This references the use of "To Cure a Weakling Child" in an Orange TV ad (although the EP uses the vastly different "Contour Regard" mix of the song).
- Mood Whiplash:
- Lyrical Dissonance aside, "Milkman" has a happy, peaceful feel to it. However, at the very beginning of the song, James' voice can be heard unintelligibly mumbling an anecdote about gouging a kid's eye out with his erect penis.
- Selected Ambient Works Volume II consists of beautiful Sweet Dreams Fuel tracks alternating with atmospherically horrifying tracks.
- On Come to Daddy, the heavy, pounding, and terrifying "Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)" is followed by the calm, mellow "Flim".
- drukQs also falls prey to this. At first it seems to alternate between pounding breakcore and soft piano pieces, but then the ambient tracks show up...
- Richard D. James Album has the extremely abrasive "Peek 824545201" being followed by the blissful and calm "Fingerbib"...which is in turn followed by another abrasive song, "Carn Marth".
- James claims that drukQs is this, despite it sounding like an Inherited Illiteracy Title of "drugs".
- Syro, which is short for "Syrobonkus", a nonsense word that one of James' sons came up with while listening to material on the album.
- Nightmare Face:
- James' iconic unnerving smile, which seems to look creepy however it is depicted; just plain and pressed up to the camera (Richard D. James Album), in an oil painting (...I Care Because You Do), pasted onto children (Come to Daddy), and even pasted onto bikini-clad women (Windowlicker).
- The woman with a hideous, deformed face and buckteeth near the end of "Windowlicker". The fact that it was based on an H. R. Giger sketch certainly helps.
- Nonindicative Name: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is not a wholly ambient album; its sequel, however, is.
- Nothing Is Scarier:
- The original form of Rubber Johnny, a 30-second commercial for drukQs, has a lot of this due to the lack of explanation for the incredibly bizarre visuals.
- His more atmospheric tracks, like "Gwely Mernans" and "Grass", are made up of soft, droning noises that wouldn't be out of place in Silent Hill.
- Overcrank: The "Windowlicker" video ends with a group of women that all have Richard's face dancing in slow-motion on Santa Monica Beach. It's strangely climactic.
- Overly-Long Gag:
- The Windowlicker video has two in immediate succession: the conversation between the two guys, and eventually the two girls, which goes on for nearly four minutes; and Richard's limo.
- The packaging for Syro with the receipt as the cover stretches over several sides of the casing, which has to be folded over five times to be closed.
- Perpetual Smiler: If anyone who isn't Richard has Richard's face in a music video, it'll probably be fixed in his signature grin.
- Portmantitle: A couple examples.
- "s950tx16wasr10" is a portmanteau of the names of three synthesizers: Akai S950, Yamaha TX16W, and Ensoniq ASR-10.
- "Lornaderek" is a combination of his parents' names, Lorna and Derek, as the track consists of an answering machine recording from them.
- Precision F-Strike: See Country Matters above.
- Pun-Based Title: Surfing on Sine Waves.
- Remix Album: 26 Mixes for Cash is mostly remixes done for other artists, with two tracks being alternative mixes of his own music and a couple more being his original contributions to Nine Inch Nails' Further Down the Spiral.
- Ridiculous Procrastinator: Despite having a reputation for having thousands of hours of music recorded, there are a couple stories about how he almost missed deadlines. One story claims that a remix for a major record label was almost overdue and said label sent an agent to retrieve the tape directly from James, to which he dubbed off a copy of the first song off a random cassette and handed it to the agent.
- Sampling: James' usage of samples is legendary within its own right. Very notable examples include:
- "4", which includes a short clip of Richard talking with his father.
- "Nannou", which is composed entirely of wind-up music box samples.
- "We Are the Music Makers", the title of which comes from a line in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory which is heard throughout the song.note
- "IZ-US" starts with Richard's nephew saying "Stop making that big face!" and cracking up.
- Self-Deprecation: The page quote comes from him describing himself in an interview.
- Self-Titled Album: The Richard D. James Album.
- Sensory Abuse: He's made several songs that are made to be as harsh as possible.
- "Ventolin" is deliberately patterned after the side-effect Ventolin gives to some users (namely, harsh-sounding ringing in the ear).
- "Come to Daddy" is a very harsh combination of static-y bass, heavy and intense percussion, and a distorted voice chanting about how much he's craving your soul.
- The end of "Windowlicker" has a wall of extremely distorted, amplified, and fuzzy bass, not to mention the high-pitched squeal which at its highest goes above the hearing range.
- "Peek 824545201" has some extremely grating instrumentation.
- Sigil Spam:
- Significant Anagram: Richard seemed to be fond of this trope around 1995, as both ...I Care Because You Do and Hangable Auto Bulbnote have several tracks titled after anagrams like "Wax the Nip"note or "Laughable Butane Bob" note .
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: The two men in the "Windowlicker" video crank out 127 swear words, including 44 uses of "fuck", in the under-4-minute intro. This averages to more than one swear every two seconds.
- On a rerelease of Surfing on Sine Waves, Richard included a song called "Redruth School", a school he went to when he was a child.
- Three of the tracks on Richard D. James Album - "Carn Marth", "Goon Gumpas", and "Logan Rock Witch" - are named after landmarks in Cornwall.
- Slasher Smile: Probably one of the most famous examples of this trope in music. The promotional video for ''26 Mixes for Cash'' compiles some of his unsettling promotional photos.
- Something Else Also Rises: The "Windowlicker" video's, er, climax involves Richard spraying a bottle of white champagne on a beach, and the way that it's intercut with the dancing bikini-clad women makes the bottle seem rather phallic.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Some of his earliest music under the Aphex Twin name was instead credited to "The Aphex Twin". This credit can be seen on the Digeridoo EP and Classics, as well as in the "Come to Daddy" video.
- Spoken Word in Music:
- "4" has a brief and repeated clip of an exchange between Richard and his father.
- "Come to Daddy (Mummy Mix)" contains a modified recording of what seems to be Richard speaking with his mother interspersed throughout.
- The spoken French line in "Windowlicker" comes from Richard's French at-the-time girlfriend.
- drukQs has spoken-word interludes, and the song "Cock/ver10" stops abruptly to play a voice clip of someone screaming "COME ON, YOU CUNT, LET'S HAVE SOME APHEX ACID!"
- Syro contains several samples of phrases being spoken in Russian.
- The Something Song: "Girl/Boy Song".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Richard has sung on a small number of his songs, such as "Milkman" and "Beetles".
- Surprisingly Gentle Song:
- Richard D. James Album has "Fingerbib", "Goon Gumpas", and "Logan Rock Witch".
- On the Come to Daddy EP, "Flim", especially considering it directly follows the Title Track.
- A majority of drukQs, considering the album switches between aggressive breakcore and calm piano instrumentals at the drop of a hat.
- Surreal Music Video: All of his music videos, really, more often than not foraying into Surreal Horror.
- Take That!: One who did an interview with Richard D. James said that "Come To Daddy" and "Windowlicker" feel respectively like take-thats to Black Metal and rap music.
- The music video for "Windowlicker" parodies rap music videos, especially the infamous misogynistic sort. The video begins with two young men that would probably be the stars of any other rap videos that can't go for five seconds without cursing and talking about how they want to fuck bitches; it drags on to the point of absurdity, showing how ridiculous it truly is. They then try to pick up two women on the sidewalk. In a normal rap video, they'd probably score the women, but in this video they get shot down. And then Richard hijacks the video, portraying an absurdly rich and powerful pimp who arrives in a limo that takes 20 seconds to fully display onscreen, and ends up getting a gaggle of women who all have his face in probably an ultimate exaggeration of the typical egotism shown in rap videos.
- One could interpret "Come to Daddy" as a Take That! to Death Metal, especially with Richard describing it when he came up with it as a "crappy death metal jingle".
- Tastes Like Purple: Richard is allegedly synesthetic. He claims to have used it as an inspiration for Selected Ambient Works Volume II.
- Teen Genius: He was already producing music at age 12, and some of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 was reputedly recorded during those years, which means he was making material for the album at the ripe old age of 13.
- Textless Album Cover: Richard D. James Album, Come to Daddy, Donkey Rhubarb, I Care Because You Do.
- Title by Number: "4".
- Title Drop:
- Done eight times in succession in "Come to Daddy" around the 45-second mark (well, seven, since the last one is saying "Come to Mummy!").
- Done in "Taking Control" by a Synthetic Voice Actor.
- Uncommon Time: Many of his songs have extreme syncopation and complicated instrumentation that make dancing to the music nigh-impossible. Many of the Richard D. James Album songs are good examples, as is "Windowlicker".
- Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The "Come to Daddy" video has a noticeable blue hue present throughout, adding to its creepiness.
- Unreliable Narrator: Go no further than the purposeful Translation Trainwreck of his Warp profile to see how confusing Richard comes off as to his fans.
- See Blatant Lies above as well.
- "Untitled" Title:
- Every track off Selected Ambient Works Vol II (except "Blue Calx") is untitled. On the album art, each song is represented by a pictogram, which led to fans creating names that became widely adopted.
- All the tracks off Melodies from Mars. However, tracks 2 & 8 are recognised as demo versions of "Fingerbib" and "Logan Rock Witch", respectively.
- Up Close with the Monster: In the video for "Come to Daddy", the old lady happens to witness the demon coming out of the TV, at which point it screams directly in her face.
- Word Purée Title: While his titling was unusual before ("Hedphelym", "Logan Rock Witch", "Schottkey 7th Path" etc), Syro took this beyond his past titles, bringing us such pronunciative nightmares as "Syro u473t8+e (Piezoluminescence Mix)", "S950tx16wasr10 (Earth Portal Mix)", "CIRCLONT6A (Syrobonkus Mix)" and "Fz pseudotimestretch+e+3".