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Total war. Richard D James has been fighting it for most of his adult life, in clubs, home-built studios and the dark web. He has bulldozed a unique path for himself in the glossy paper house of the music world, coming and going as he sees fit, so ambiguous a figure as to barely seem like a real human at all. He does interviews via text message. He is a wingless, gloriously impractical bird of paradise.

Writing in flowery hyperbole is about the only way to communicate something of the inadequacy of music journalism when faced by a history like the Twin's. Too many people will just turn away in disgust from the very idea of trapping an album of his inside 500 words; like trying to nail a tiger's tail to the floor of his cage. When Syro was announced, I got offered to review it. It came, as you'd predict, as a bolt out of the blue, and was particularly unattractive of criticism. Not as focused or fraught as Drukqs, but equally intimidating.

So it's with not a little relief that my first thoughts on entering Richard's acoustic workshop is just how natural it feels. More than that, it actually seems like he has gone all out to try and make the listener feel at home - not here his usual ancillary, conscious disconnect, but something ingratiating to newcomers, and actually kind of clichéd. 'Disk prep calrec2 barn dance [slo]' is steady as a Ford Mondeo, a jittery glide through percussive automation, the sound of a brain doing all the things it does in the background, backing up memory files, filing away visual data, quietly busying itself while the part of you that you call you gets on with laughing and crying and self-pitying.

It's a collection that feels pre-planned, but not entirely complete. With an almost identical palette to Brandt Brauer Frick's You Make Me Real, and nods towards Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood and Tom Waits circa-Mule Variations, it's a comfortable, occasionally funky blend without the over-arching ambition of previous work. Even the titles are reined in.

Aphex Twin has always made sport out of projecting an image of omnipresence. We know he has made millions (a million? 2 million?) from selling his music for commercial use. He has told us this much. If anything, the thought of this only makes him more dear. Confounding expectations is what he does.

So it's disappointing in some ways that quite a chunk of the record feels like offcuts; of precisely what, we can only wonder. There has always been a vein of acoustic experimentation running through Twin albums from Richard D. James onwards. Even the longer pieces here feel like sketches, rather than complete statements. 'Piano un10 it happened' shares DNA with the episodic beauty of 'Avril 14th', though it is nowhere near as immediate or satisfying.

The Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 title is almost certainly a cipher; how much of the record is being performed by automatons is unimportant, probably he just wants you to imagine them clacking away while you absorb the turns of melody and bizarre, mutated piano clonks. As Harry Hill would say; ladies and gentlemen, the singular power of suggestion.

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