Caustic Window


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Frazzled breakbeats and warped homemade electronics are the rule of the day on Richard D. James' Compilation, released under the alias Caustic Window. While the album is dominated by the dying-machine sounds for which James would later make his money, there's a fine sense of melody and a near trip-hop vibe to a number of the album's slower songs. The Caustic Window material works best when James is attacking his instruments with twisted fury. "Joyrex J4," "Astroblaster," and "The Garden of Linmiri" display the darker sides of the Aphex Twin method. It's full industrial madness on those tracks, as fuzzy, experimental electronics throb toward the creation of harsh, shredded soundscapes. Some listeners will recognize "The Garden of Linmiri" from the stylish Pirelli tire ad, which featured Carl Lewis running on water and on the Statue of Liberty. Drill'n'bass has rarely sounded as fierce as it does here. "Fantasia" may have created the entire genre of digital hardcore, as Alec Empire and his Digital Hardcore peers and followers made careers based on the samples and demented breakbeats on aural display in the song. Belying the compilation nature of the album, it's a bit uneven, as more than a few of the tracks have a demo feel. Still, James' great melodic sense is stamped on at least half of the songs, in particular the lilting "Italic Eyeball" with its dreamy female vocal samples and "On the Romance Tip," a synth-heavy song with pretty ambient sounds. Caustic Window is, if possible, the more experimental side of Richard D. James, and Compilation makes for an engaging, sinister listen.

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