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Music / Syro

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"[James] calls Syro 'my pop album, or as poppy as it's going to get,' which means that it contains vocals (performed by himself and members of his family and garbled beyond recognition) and bewitching melodies. It is, nonetheless, a heavy trip; a whirlwind tour of James's inscrutable brain, an unpredictable maze of things that shouldn't make sense together yet do; blaring rave basslines, poignant electro chords, splintered jazz fusion riffs, meditative piano, scorching acid plunges, elaborate breakbeat hieroglyphs, abrasive industrial clatter and sheer noise terror. If you're an Aphex Twin fan, it's both familiar and unfathomably strange - a transmission in a language only one man understands, and even he's not sure."
Q magazine interview

Syro, released in 2014, is the sixth album by British electronic musician Richard D. James as Aphex Twin.

His first release under the Aphex Twin alias since 2001's Drukqs (and first release of any new material since 2007's Rushup Edge as The Tuss), it had been in development for at least four years prior (though some tracks date as far back as 2007), supposedly being held back by personal events.

As the quote implies, Syro is a Genre Roulette of various musical styles, and an exploration into poppier musical territory (despite Richard's insistence that the album isn't "particularly innovative").

The album was promoted through various odd techniques: a link hosted on the Dark Web, graffiti of the Aphex Twin logo spread throughout New York City, press releases in broken English, and a green blimp flown over London.


Syro was released to critical and commercial success. Many critics saw it as a welcome return to form for James, and the album charted impressively in a multitude of countries, even smashing James' record for his highest-charting UK album (previously held by Selected Ambient Works Volume II). The arguable most impressive feat the album pulled off was winning the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album, proving that James was not past his prime.

While James has stated that Syro is meant to be the end of an era, it also marks the beginning of a new era in sound and approach that continues to this day.



  1. "minipops 67 [120.2] [source field mix]" (4:47)
  2. "XMAS_EVET10 [120] [thanaton3 mix]" (10:31)
  3. "produk 29 [101]" (5:03)
  4. "4 bit 9d api+e+6 [126.26]" (4:28)
  5. "180db_ [130]" (3:11)
  6. "CIRCLONT6A [141.98] [syrobonkus mix]" (6:00)
  7. "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]" (0:58)
  8. "CIRCLONT14 [152.97] [shrymoming mix]" (7:21)
  9. "syro u473t8+e [141.98] [piezoluminescence mix]" (6:32)
  10. "PAPAT4 [155] [pineal mix]" (4:18)
  11. "s950tx16wasr10 [163.97] [earth portal mix]" (6:01)
  12. "aisatsana [102]" (5:21)


  • Richard D. James

TROPELISTT1 [work page mix]:

  • Bilingual Bonus: Some tracks contain samples spoken in Russian, like Псевдо-растяжение звука во времени ("Pseudo stretching of sound in time") or Носочки ("Little socks").
  • Epic Rocking: 7 out of the 12 tracks are over 5 minutes long, with "XMAS_EVET10 [120] [thanaton3 mix]" at 10 minutes and 31 seconds being the longest.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of the 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.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Vocals can be heard throughout some tracks, but no definitive transcription of any of them is known to exist.
  • Lighter and Softer: As stated in the above quote, Syro was delibaretely conceived by James to be a collection of more accessible material than his previous albums. Whether he has achieved that is open for debate.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "aisatsana".
  • Long List: The packaging 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) in the format of a receipt. It includes items such as, "Outdoor postering in Italy", "Hotel in Seattle for album playback meeting" and "Royalty to Richard (50%)." Apparently, James 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.
  • Long Title: Almost every track has one, as most of the titles are akin to computer code (two examples being "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3" and "syro u473t8+e [piezoluminescence mix]").
  • Miniscule Rocking: "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3" is just under a minute long.
  • Mood Whiplash: "CIRCLONT14 [152.97] [shrymoming mix]" starts out sounding very unsettling and desolate, but by the time the "Носочки" samples come in the song has transformed into something softer and more comforting. "XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]" undergoes a similar transition.
  • Neologism: Syro, short for "Syrobonkus", a nonsense word that one of Richard's sons came up with while listening to material on the album.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Every track is predominantly instrumental, so this is a given.
  • Odd Name Out: Every other song on the album has an unusual title featuring numbers and symbols...and then there's "aisatsana".
  • One-Word Title: The album title, as well as "aisatsana".
  • Overly Long Gag: The packaging with the receipt as the cover stretches over several sides of the casing, which has to be folded over five times to be closed.
  • Sampling: Samples of bird calls can be heard throughout "aisatsana".
  • Sdrawkcab Name: "aisatsana" is "Anastasia" (Richard's wife) backwards.
  • Splash of Color: Most of the cover is in white and black, with the exception of the lime green logo.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3" begins with the words "Casio reset". There's also the aforementioned Russian samples.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Almost every other song on the album consists of hard/lively electronica, and then the album closes with the calm piano piece "aisatsana".
  • Title by Number: Every track includes at least one number in the title except for "aisatsana", and even then the full title includes the BPM.
  • Title Track: "syro u473t8+e [piezoluminescence mix]". "CIRCLONT6A" being the "syrobonkus mix" might qualify as well.
  • Word Purée Title: While Richard's song titles had been unusual before, Syro takes this Up to Eleven and beyond, bringing such pronunciative nightmares as "syro u473t8+e [piezoluminescence mix]", "s950tx16wasr10 [earth portal mix]", "CIRCLONT6A [syrobonkus mix]" and "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3".


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