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AFX – Cuckoo (90s – 84)

May 28, 2013

Unlikely things found ignored in Armidale’s mainstream record story #47 – AFX’s Analogue Bubblebath 4 EP. It had been sitting there for months most likely because of the inflated price for an four track EP. Or maybe because no one else knew that AFX was pseudonym of Aphex Twin. Or nobody cared.

I finally gave in and bought it and in doing so came up with one of my radio set pieces – a bird sound collage. Mixing together some Woob, AFX and a environmental field recording of a pond (by Ron Sims and Edo Brands) found on a charity album, I constructed a good half hour of radio based on chirps, tweets, water and the odd beat. Woob would dub along until their water birds appeared in the mix, whereby I would mix in the field recording of other water birds and finally cross over to AFX for a central blast of beats before the cuckoo’s call would fade back into the field recording and then back into Woob.

In other variations I would add a recording of frog calls from the Melbourne University Department of Zoology (as cadged from a compilation of Australian electronica), or add some watery sounds from an invested rainforest as created by Peter Namlook and Klaus Schulze.

There episodes were experiments in mixing not beats but atmospheres in real time to create radio collages. All in all not very cutting edge but enjoyable. These were the most satisfying programs, where I got to move away from a feature album mixed in with related music and a brief digression as was my normal template.

As for AFX, Cuckoo just pips Donkey Rhubarb as my favourite from the wider Aphex Twin catalogue. It’s busy and urgent and relatively straightforward compared to his other tracks. As much as I love Windowlicker and the rest of his warped tracks, sometimes you just need a straight ahead beat.

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