I'm convinced that no matter what Richard D. James does at this point in his career, there's no way that he'll please everyone. Perhaps he's realized this as well, and he's content to toss some music out into the world whenever he feels like it (or like buying himself a new tank) and be done with it and not worry about what anyone says. He's always been a bit of a joker, and while it's been stated that the Analord series is his first new work since 2001, he could very well be still joking everyone and simply pulling tracks out of his self-professed archive of thousands of songs.
Regardless of whether the tracks were new or not, James did well for himself last year, releasing eleven 12"s (with a total of 41 tracks) under the AFX name on his Rephlex label. Each record went on to sell over 10,000 copies, but rather than releasing all the tracks on a 3CD set, he decided to whittle down the tracks onto a single disc. So yeah, again, he's probably not going to please everyone.
I haven't had a record player hooked up in years and while I was somewhat interested in hearing new work from Aphex Twin, I didn't feel like hunting down everything. Created largely on his collection of vintage and home-made synths, drum machines and other gadgets. Most of the tracks have a fairly classic feel, with hints of classic Detroit techno and other styles seeping through. In that regard, they feel like they could have been created at any point since his Richard D. James Album (or before), but there's still a whole lot of fun to be had here.
Because I haven't heard all 41 tracks in the series, I have no idea how I would sequence a disc of this nature, but Chosen Lords rips right into things with filtered, indecipherable vocals and hazy melodies floating over ripping beats on "Fenix Funk 5" and keeps right on going with the blistering "Reunion 2," which again allows some chattery vocal-textures to creep into the mix alongside hard-panned sweeping synths and all kinds of frenetic beat programming.
There are several places where the disc seems to lapse into very familiar territory, and at other times it definitely feels like it's coasting a bit. "Batine Acid," "Klopjob," and "Pitcard" all trace familiar melody arcs and don't seem to tread already re-hashed ground, but in other places it does seem like James is really making some leaps and bounds. The dark, electro-influenced "Crying In Your Face" is one of the most simple tracks on the release in terms of construction, but the gritty acid line and murky filtered vocals make it stand out, while the old-school "Boxing Day" seems to drift clear back to the glory days of the early 90s with its Warp Records Artificial Intelligence-era sound. In the end, haters will say he's not doing anything new, while fans will eat it up. I lean towards the latter, but can see the point of the former. That's not going to stop me from having a bit of fun, though.