Having recently purchased an iPod and begun the painstaking process of loading all of my music onto it, I've been rediscovering a lot of my favourite albums from days gone by. Music has always been important to me, and a great many nostalgic feelings are attached to the various soundtracks of my youth, but I've been somewhat surpised to find that a lot of the music I am most sentimental about is electronic. While most of my peers in the tattoo world seemed to have spent their teenage years drinking and going to punk or hardcore shows, I was more likely to be found at an outdoor doof party in the Adelaide hills, with bonfires and U.V. art, and teepees with weird dudes selling chai tea and space-cake. Unfashionable as it may be to admit, this underground rave culture and the characters I met within it shaped me a lot as a person, in ways I am still only realising now.
Some of the most profound moments of self discovery that I experienced occurred in the year I turned 16, which was also the year I attended my first outdoor doof party (and the year I made that awesome holographic, toy fur-trimmed purple number that I'm proudly displaying in this photo). I was living away from home with some slightly older teenage girls, and we were playing in a band together and making art and philosophising about things we didn't fully comprehend but really wanted to. We had lots of older friends who would lend us books like T.A.Z. and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and it made me desperately want to be an adult so I could escape the ridiculousness of adolescence and experience life in ways I could then only imagine. So I guess it makes perfect sense that my favourite music from that year of my life would remain some of the most important and nostalgic for me as an adult.
Above all others, the album that still wraps me up in a big soft blanket of wistful analogue happiness every time I hear it is Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin. As you can see from the scan of my cd, I have loved it half to death over the past 13 years, and in fact for a very long time I would listen to this album every night while falling asleep, to the point where I couldn't sleep without it. To this day, it is still my go-to if I'm having a horrible time and need to induce feelings of childish happiness; for me, listening to this cd is akin to something like trepanation, but without the undoubtedly unpleasant drilling-a-hole-in-your-skull part.
Along with other outstanding electronic artists of the same era, like Autechre, Future Sound of London, and Boards of Canada, who I also love dearly and may post about down the track, Aphex Twin and his many aliases bring an emotive, human element to a genre of music often dismissed by non-believers as cold and mechanical. If you listen to the clip below of Ageispolis, probably my favourite track on Selected Ambient Works, I think you'll agree that cold and mechanical are the last words that spring to mind. Enjoy.
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