FACT Singles Club features a panel of writers rating and slating the biggest new tracks of the last seven days.
At the end of last month, 3D renderings of the Aphex Twin logo appeared in two tube stations in London before popping up all over the world. The mysterious artwork was advertising a forthcoming EP, Collapse, and we got the first taste of what’s to come via lead single ‘T69 Collapse’. But is it up to snuff?
That, plus new tracks from CupcakKe, M. Geddes Gengras, Puce Mary and Matthew Dear in this week’s Singles Club.
Aphex Twin – ‘T69 Collapse’
Maya-Roisin Slater: Listen here as Aphex Twin takes every sound he’s used in the last 20 years, puts them in a blender, pulses thoroughly and then proceeds to spill the contents all over you. (5)
Jesse Bernard: There’s a lot going on when combined with the visuals. They also add a richness to the whizzing electricity of the track. (5)
Cameron Cook: At this point, it’s the cult of Aphex Twin that keeps bringing the boys to the yard: the cryptic album campaigns, the videos, the art direction, etc. Musically, this is 100% exactly what I was expecting, and am I mad? No. I saw Aphex Twin headline Fuji Rock in a full-on rainstorm last year and it was sickeningly glorious. ‘T69 Collapse’ would have fit perfectly in that incredible set, although to be honest I just had to Google the setlist to make sure that it wasn’t actually included, because who could tell? (7)
Matthew Dear – ‘Bunny’s Dream’
Cameron Cook: There’s something very late-’90s about this to me: that Air, Cassius, Chemical Brothers (circa Surrender) dreamy electro sweet spot when rave was pretty much over and EDM was still, thankfully, a good decade away. There are a lot of separate ideas going on here but as a whole it totally makes sense. Every 30 seconds or so there’s just a new little Easter egg to discover.
If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know that I basically hate anything that lasts longer than four minutes, and this not only held my attention but left me wanting more. (9)
Jesse Bernard: This gets really good when the drums come in but the guitar is what really gives it its vibrancy and texture. The vocals could’ve been left off and it still would’ve made for an interesting song. (6)
Maya-Roisin Slater: Matthew Dear’s baritone and the lazy guitar melody that carries on throughout soaks ‘Bunny’s Dream’ in this syrupy indie nostalgia. It feels like what would play in the background of a Diablo Cody directed short where two awkward teens take mushrooms for the first time in their parent’s dingy basement. (6)
CupcakKe – ‘Blackjack’
Jesse Bernard: This is as bold and provocative as you’d expect from CupcakKe and you can tell she’s really enjoying herself in this moment. (8)
Maya-Roisin Slater: I wish instead of reviewing this, I could just copy-paste the lyrics in their entirety because they are pure poetry. G’luck to all CupcakKe’s competitors. Who is beating her when she’s got lines, “Stomach like a beauty salon because I swallow every pubic hair shed”? (8)
Cameron Cook: THIS QUEEN. CupcakKe can do no wrong in my book. Even though she’s been getting her due for the past year or so, she’s still massively underrated. She’s refused to be pigeonholed as an “explicit” rapper, and her bars are straight undeniable. She’s one of the most talented rappers on the scene. I’m loving this track’s minimal trap beat. As usual basically everything Cupcakke says is a punchline. I live. (8)
M. Geddes Gengras – ‘Nave (Edit)’
Maya-Roisin Slater: This new work from M. Geddes Gengras sounds like taking a walk through the sonic landscape of Gas’ Königsforst after the sun’s gone down. It maintains that same dense hazy ambience Wolfgang Voigt was so adept at creating but with a much darker feel, leaving an eerie and disoriented impression. Kind of a bummer, though, that after such an immersive experience that sneaky little fade out has to come in, making for a pretty unfulfilling ending. (7)
Cameron Cook: I have mad respect for M. Geddes Gengras, and experimental composers as a whole, I just like, never really understand when I’m supposed to listen to music like this. I always feel like it’s unfair to rate these artists in Singles Club because I’d just have to live with the track for a while to really form a definitive opinion that’s more than just, “It’s sounds that I listened to?” But I mean, MGG is super talented and people should listen to him! (6)
Jesse Bernard: I immediately felt a sense of calm just settling myself into it, which probably says a lot about my state when writing this. Its soothing feeling comes from its ambient foundations but it’s so expansive. By the end of it, you are fully immersed and meditative. (9)
Puce Mary – ‘Red Desert’
Jesse Bernard: Gnawing, pulsating and chilling. There’s a coldness to the drilling of the synths that reflects an anguish of some kind. It arrests the senses at various points particularly with the organs and the monologue that mentions the “trauma of child abuse.” It sounds what numbing pain feels like. (7)
Maya-Roisin Slater: More pared down than the turbulent noise released during Puce Mary’s Posh Isolation days, ‘Red Desert’ eases into dissent. I will say, it always seems a little off to hear the work of an artist that’s so infamous for and gifted at live performance in a recorded context, and sometimes throughout the song I found myself longing for that extra dimension. (6)
Cameron Cook: I need to stop writing these ballots at night, because y’all be always including some freaky shit that makes me feel like I’m in a David Lynch movie. This track could lose the organ because it makes it just sound a little too Halloween for me? I get it, and I like the sound design of the unconventional background instrumentation but the delivery of the text and the organ together is a little much. (6)
CupcakKe – ‘Blackjack’ (8)
M. Geddes Gengras – ‘Nave (Edit)’ (7.3)
Matthew Dear – ‘Bunny’s Dream’ (7)
Puce Mary – ‘Red Desert’ (6.3)
Aphex Twin – ‘T69 Collapse’ (5.7)
Cameron Cook is an American culture journalist currently residing in Berlin, Germany. He would go to the ends of the Earth for Kate Bush. (@iamacameron)
Jesse Bernard is freelance music and culture journalist based in Brooklyn and London, still hotsteppin’ in a Nike Air sneaker. (@MarvinsCorridor)
Maya-Roisin Slater is a music and culture journalist based out of Berlin and London. She recently stopped talking about riffs and started talking about frequencies. (@MayaRoisin)