Over the course of 2005, the Rephlex label quietly released a series of 11 vinyl EPs, called Analord 1-11, which contained over 40 songs in all. These limited edition discs by AFX (aka Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin) quickly became extremely collectible; a complete set, including the limited edition binder, recently sold for nearly $500 on eBay. Bear in mind this is for music released only last year. Although the label had already more than made their money back on the series, they also realized the wisdom of compiling a selection of the tracks to make available to a larger audience.
This astute marketing on the part of Rephlex wouldn't have worked with just any artist. After all, Aphex Twin hasn't had a full-length release since Drukqs in 2001, and he's considered by many to be a demigod of electronic music, with legions of rabid fans all over the world. As he demonstrates on these Analord tracks, it's a reputation he more than deserves.
The music on this collection bears out the fact that the tools one uses leave a signature on the work created with them. In the case of Chosen Lords, these tools are the huge collection of analog synthesis equipment in James' private collection. Instead of the sonic-kinetic sculptures of the Richard D. James album, or the quiet ambiences from prepared piano on Drukqs, Chosen Lords revels in the squiggly triangle waves and low-pass filters of Detroit techno and the 303 bass lines of late-'90s acid house.
Moving beyond the mere sound of the tracks, what's left are the complex progressions of constantly shifting themes, each slightly detuned, tweaked or deformed, that have marked Aphex Twin's best compositions. It might sound a little too retro for some Aphex fans, but it'll nevertheless show up on a lot of DJ set lists.
Though some may quibble that the 10 tracks selected for this release aren't the best of the Analord series, as an album, they work well together. While the CD lacks the indie cred of owning the entire series of vinyl EPs, certainly Chosen Lords represents an interesting progression, both in Aphex Twin's body of work and in the business of music.