RIYL: Aphex Twin, μ-Ziq

Label: Planet Mu

Mike & Rich are two of the most influential names in the electronic world, or, rather, one could say that they’re some of the best knob twiddlers in the game. Richard D. James and Mike Paradinas have put forth numerous albums, EPs and singles in their years of activity, but this definitely ranks up there in their most unusual output. Expert Knob Twiddlers sounds unrefined and frankly unlike anything either producer has made. A close friend of mine, upon showing me this album a while ago, informed me that it’s rumored that the two were under the influence of acid making this (which would explain why it sounds so strange which is relative concerning them, I know), but the synopsis Planet Mu offers seems much more reasonable – the two were “at times actually drunk.” This album’s twenty years old, and it’s been given a limited reissue on both cassette and vinyl. Listen to some songs from the album below and see what you think of them. Cheers!

The Details

A collaboration between AFX (Richard D. James) and µ–Ziq (Mike Paradinas), Mike & Rich - ’Expert Knob Twiddlers’ was made back in 1994. Richard edited the tracks into shape later in 1996 with his new Apple Mac computer and it was released later that year on Rephlex, the label he co-owned and which released the first two albums by µ-Ziq.

This new reissued version has been carefully cleaned up, re-edited and remastered from the original DAT tapes, put into a more fitting order and, more excitingly, seven new bonus tracks and alternative versions have also been added.

The album was recorded over a few days during the 1994 World Cup, back when Richard lived in a big shared flat in Stoke Newington. Richard had tried to collaborate with a few other likeminded artists but something clicked when Mike and Rich worked together and the sessions have a unique feel; playful and at times actually drunk. These are fun experiments in the spirit of lighthearted moog pop and ripe 70s British TV themes, standing out from the po-faced electronica of the time with a garish glee.

The record was made on what is now seen as pretty primitive gear - an Atari, Roland MKS-80, Memorymoog, Roland R8 and a handful of samples on a Casio FZ-10M - but it’s to their credit that it resonates well with the hardware workouts coming out today. There's a broadminded but sloppy funk to the record, even whistling, singing and harpsichord in 'Reg' and wonky beat pile-ons in 'Jelly Fish'. There's latin piano and wheezy drunken techno in ‘Vodka’, or the sleepy spaced out ambience of ‘Bu Bu Bu Ba' with its barely contained laughter which seems to reflect the absurdity.

The new versions and bonus tracks are an absolute delight and well worth the purchase - from a trancier version of ‘Vodka' to the wonky bounce of ‘Portamento Gosh', The 3/4 dub of 'Waltz,' the banging door bass of' Brivert and Muonds', the creepy seasick atmosphere of 'Clissold Bathroom' and finishing with the strangely graceful and serious 'Organ Plodder'. A generous and welcome return to the racks.
releases September 2, 2016

Price $39.27

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