The King James Version, Abridged
Lately, Richard D. James seems obsessed with revisiting his intelligent-techno past. Let’s face it, his recent significant CD-shelf contributions are retreads: Aphex Twin’s 26 Mixes for Cash, and a reissue of the “Hangable Auto Bulb” singles he released as AFX. Now comes Chosen Lords, yet another repackaging effort but possibly his best one yet.For listeners unable to obtain and appreciate AFX’s 2005 series of 11 Analord vinyl EPs, Chosen Lords is his ideal arrangement of ten selections from the score of songs committed to that wax. These are melodic re-examinations themselves, invested in the skronky acid-house pranks James first developed. Indeed, AFX’s one attempt to play things straight here still earns a computer-virus-inspired name (“PWSteal.Ldpinch.D”) and requires the rhythm section from the Chemical Brothers’ “It Doesn’t Matter.”
Otherwise, there are decidedly exploratory electronics behind even generic-dance titles like “Fenix Funk 5” and “Batine Acid” — the former blending distorted voice, fierce percussion, and synthesized concertina, the latter complex techno with eerie ambient undercurrents. The exploration often has as much to do with jammy and nonlinear post-rock as with old Detroit. “Klopjob,” for example, gradually eliminates its synth-pop drumbeat, while the pleasant harmonics of “Pitcard” stop seemingly at random.
Fans who splurged on Analord vinyl may critique James over yet another repurposing and quibble over his tracklist. Still, it helps to have this highfalutin stuff in easily digestible form. Chosen Lords, to its credit, portrays AFX as genuinely welcoming and hosting musical friends from his past instead of merely picking those friendsâ€šÃ„Ã´ brains.