Steely James
July 15, 2010 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Thank you. This is cool.
posted by Xoebe at 7:27 PM on July 15, 2010

This is cool, but god, they don't look like they're having any fun at all. C'mon, folks, it's Aphex Twin! If you're not going to try dancing a little, then try at least to look creepy as shit.
posted by barnacles at 7:29 PM on July 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

This makes me happy.
posted by cloeburner at 7:33 PM on July 15, 2010

I, ah, can't really tell which song it is...
posted by rebent at 7:33 PM on July 15, 2010

Alarm Will Sound released an album of stuff like this and it's really, really good
posted by p3on at 7:34 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Man, I like this. Great arrangement, super tight performance and they look like they are right into it. It looks like there are only ambient mics, so this is what it might sound like with no mics at all.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:37 PM on July 15, 2010

Wow, that's lovely. Very close to the original but different in interesting ways. I've always been a big fan of I Care Because You Do.
posted by Artw at 7:38 PM on July 15, 2010

Love it. Watching Alarm Will Sound doing "4" live was one of the cooler things I've ever seen at Bang on a Can here in NYC. They were serious, too, but everyone cracked a smile when they did the "... yeah" vocal.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 7:45 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

This made me smile. Thanks, davebush.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:47 PM on July 15, 2010

Short shameful confession: I kept waiting for one of the kids kick a barrel across the floor to get the GRONK noise from the original version.

Thanks for the link. Great stuff.
posted by ardgedee at 7:47 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is awesome... one of my favorite albums of all time.

Also of interest: Beardyman covers Windowlicker.
posted by ifandonlyif at 7:48 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

First off, isn't it cool that there's a steel pan orchestra at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati? i think that's really cool. i also think it's cool that an ensemble like this is covering electronica that was never "meant" to be played by a group of humans with real instruments. The only problem is that the drummer is really pretty stiff: the groove is pretty clunky. But, he's young, and he might loosen up over time.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:49 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

While we're on the subject of steel bands:

Here's a bunch of Canadian kids covering the "Soul Train" theme and "The Hustle."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:53 PM on July 15, 2010

Wow, I loved it. I have not listened to Aphex Twin in a long time, but I think I will start again.
posted by Theloupgarou at 7:55 PM on July 15, 2010

I dunno. If I don't wake up in a cold sweat tonight, it's not a real Aphex Twin video.
posted by Wataki at 8:06 PM on July 15, 2010

This proves my theory that a Pitchfork version of Glee would be totally awesome. Further proof, string cover of Kraftwerk's Das Model (with David Byrne).

Coincidentally, I have David Byrne penned as the teacher. The pilot, "Pablo Honeybees" (the school mascot is the Honeybee), will have Thom Yorke guest star as the leader of a rival high school with a recurring role for Bjork as "the intercom system."
posted by geoff. at 8:29 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

Flapjax, I agree it's very cool that there's a steel drum band in Cincinnati! I love steel drums - the ingenuity in turning discarded oil drums into musical instruments, the surprisingly sweet sound, the way the players dance a little as they swing their sticks - and on a visit to Trinidad & Tobago about 25 years ago I hoped to hear pan music everywhere. Unfortunately, at the time everybody was into reggae and various flavors of rock. Electric guitars in every music shop with nary a steel drum in sight. Pan was for tourists and old fogeys, and Mom and I were getting discouraged asking around for live pan music.

Finally we found a band that was playing at another hotel and our cab driver, an elderly gentleman, was quietly pleased that a couple of tourists were making an effort to listen to the music of his youth. The band leader was also elderly although the players were young, and he'd arranged popular tunes of the 1940s for his orchestra. These were the songs of Mom's youth too, and every time they started a piece she'd sit up, eyes shining, and say "Oooh, I know this one!" My mom is not a happy person, but this evening is one of my fondest memories with her: the warm night breeze around the pool, the band pogoing gently to the golden oldies, and my mom smiling and loving every minute of it.

I don't know if Trinidadians have rediscovered their pan tradition, but I'm glad bands in other countries are keeping it alive. I'd love to give it a try myself, but I don't think there are any steel drum bands around here who'd want me.
posted by Quietgal at 8:48 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

That was the coolest fucking thing I've seen in a long-ass time. I didn't want it to end.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:11 PM on July 15, 2010

Awesome- probably the most 'accurate', full sounding Aphex Twin cover I've ever heard. They absolutely must wear Richard masks for the live show.

If you haven't yet, do check out The Bad Plus's cover of Flim.
posted by Casimir at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2010

Monkey drummer
posted by Artw at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2010

One day in the future, we'll look back on this post and realize that everyone who looked at the video started their own steel pan band. Here's a link to get you started.
posted by maudlin at 9:31 PM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I kept waiting for one of the kids kick a barrel across the floor to get the GRONK noise from the original version .

Yeah, the cover is incomplete without that sound. It's the sound that releases the tension so it feels very complete without it.
posted by Brent Parker at 9:50 PM on July 15, 2010

That should read "incomplete without it." That's my only criticism of this cover, well done guys.
posted by Brent Parker at 9:52 PM on July 15, 2010

Thanks for posting this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2010

No mention yet of the Joy Division steel band cover? Man, it always makes me deliriously happy.
posted by lizjohn at 10:19 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Boy, that sure was wonderful. Thanks for posting.
posted by pkingdesign at 10:21 PM on July 15, 2010

posted by setanor at 1:12 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

That was really enjoyable. There's a certain melodic compatibility, it seems to me; I've always been struck (or used to be; I haven't listened to much of this stuff in years) by how certain elements of the Warp sound - notably on The Black Dog's 'Spanners', and Plaid releases, but occasionally with Richard James too - bring to mind the kind of melodies I associate with steel drums.

Also, the drumming in that Bad Plus cover is exquisite!
posted by palimpsest at 3:00 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to get you started.

That makes me want to live next door to a steel pan workshop.
posted by orme at 5:27 AM on July 16, 2010

Great cover.

I would like to share this one (no steel drums, nor aphex twin, yet possibly the best cover ever)

Kronos Quartet - Marquee moon
posted by elmono at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2010

Although the Kronos version of Marquee Moon is good, I've always thought there's something off about the feel. and that it could have been done much better. It probably doesn't help that I'm obsessed with the original (obsessed enough to record a full band medley that goes Handshake Drugs -> Marquee Moon -> Handshake Drugs), but there's something clockwork, Newtonian, classical mechanics about the way the original goes from the easy to the difficult, the known to the unknown, that they seem to miss out on.
posted by kersplunk at 6:22 AM on July 16, 2010

If for some reason you didn't find it, here's the original version of the Aphex Twin song. Hosted by Google, the world's largest music piracy network. I'd never noticed the source samples were sort of steel drumish. And while we're on YouTube, here's Alberto Balsalm on Guitar.

I've enjoyed Aphex Twin's exploration of more lyrical music. I think I'm alone in liking the album Drukqs, all the keyboard music reminds me a bit of John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.
posted by Nelson at 6:42 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

the original goes from the easy to the difficult, the known to the unknown, that they seem to miss out on.

I think what happens is that the Kronos Version is only 4+ minutes long. The length of the original gives you that movement from the known to the unknown as you rightly say.

But don't you love the violin saying "I remember How the darkness doubled" and that pounding cello arrangement?

I won't derail the thread anymore.

Viva Aphex Twin!
posted by elmono at 6:44 AM on July 16, 2010

Wow, I've just got caught in a time sink listening to guitar and piano covers of Aphex Twin covers. And that Beardyman show at the Underbelly linked previously is pure magic. (forward to 7 min and listen to the 'Gypsy Fish' bit and you'll see.)

I still remember the whole way my brain exploded when my 15 year old brain first heard Boy/Girl song for the first time. I was blown away. And it was on the radio man.
posted by daHIFI at 7:19 AM on July 16, 2010

I'm fascinated by this piece ... what other Aphex Twin tracks should I be listening to.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:19 AM on July 16, 2010

This whole thread has put a big stupid grin on my face, as learning how to make and/or play the steel drums has been a life goal of mine for many years now. Thanks!
posted by Vervain at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2010

Hmm... the video for Ventolin seems to have been carefully scoured from YouTube. I bloody love that track.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on July 16, 2010

Did you know that if you took all of James' remixes of Ventolin, laid them end to end, and played them backwards, you'd have half the unreleased remixes of Ventolin?
posted by ardgedee at 11:23 AM on July 16, 2010

The Ventolin remixes are awesome. Possibly a good place to start before you can begin to appreciate that eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee is a really awesome sound.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2010

OK so that was weird. This thread took me back to the old Transmission steel band video which led to an American marching band doing Personal Jesus which was filmed as part of a Depeche Mode film produced by a friend I went to college with & haven't seen in years. Of course she also produced the Joy Division documentary. But nothing about Richard James. Yet.
posted by i_cola at 1:30 PM on July 16, 2010

You know what's been an awesome gift from pop to marching bands? Madonna and Justin Timberlake's Four Minutes.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2010

Cool Papa Bell: I'm fascinated by this piece ... what other Aphex Twin tracks should I be listening to.

Aphex has puts out a wide variety of stuff over the years, under a variety of names, but all/most of it unmistakably bears his stamp, which is hard to define. But anyway. He can do beautiful melodies and hypnotic rhythms, but also ear bleeding industrial noisescapes. Personally, I prefer the beautiful side of his output. But if you sample at random, you might find some very challenging stuff.

Alberto Balsalm is from an album called "I Care Because You Do ..." from 15 years ago. Its once of my favourite tracks of his, and you'll find other stuff on that album similarly pleasing, e.g. check out Acrid Avid Jam Shred and mookid. The absolutely beautiful Pancake Lizard also dates from that period. But personally I think his structures, melodies and overall songcraft have improved a lot since then.

More recent highlights include IZ-US (1997), Vordhosbn (2001) and Bbydhyonchord (2001). In 2005 he put out a series of 11 EPs made on purely analogue equipment, known as the Analord (geddit?) series, which are widely reckoned to be his best stuff to date. Check out Klopjob, pwsteal.ldpinch.d and Where's Your Girlfriend?. Since then he has released a more frenetic development of that analogue sound under pseudonym 'The Tuss', which has never been officially confirmed as his, but we all know it is. New stuff is rumoured to be coming out this year, but then, it always is.

Older, more simple but perennial classics include most of the 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92 Album' (e.g. Ageispolis, Xtal) and the more melodic tracks from Selected Ambient Works 2 (1994) e.g. 'Cliffs', 'Blue Calx' - which were allegedly composed while he was lucid dreaming. Oh, and Cuckoo (1994) is pretty fun.

Thats just my IMHO favourites from the 300+ Aphex Twin tracks that have been officially released. There are rumoured to be hundreds and hundreds of unreleased works.
posted by memebake at 3:05 PM on July 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

He's done some really nice stuff as Polygon Window as well.
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2010

(I liked drukqs, too.)
posted by kaibutsu at 3:36 PM on July 16, 2010

drukqs takes a listen or two or twelve to realize that the bits that sound like frustrating garbage amongst the genius bits are in fact genius too.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on July 16, 2010

For those who haven't yet seen it: Aphex Twin's face encoded in his music.
posted by ZsigE at 5:49 AM on July 17, 2010

Drukqs is probably my favorite "Aphex Twin" album, but Analord is the best thing RDJ has done; I think that was technically an AFX release. And whatever his contributions were to The Tuss stuff (his name is on the tracks in the BMI Repertoire)... Confederation Trough & Rushup Edge are both fantastic.

I love playing his music, although I'm not nearly as good as the people in the videos linked in this thread; the bass on XMD5A is fantastic, and I love the melody of I'm Self Employed. It'd be really neat to see those 2 arranged for a full band.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2010

« Older Because they're Woerth it   |   Turn the web into your personal music library. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments