Aphex Twin’s return, Syro, bears a 2014 release date, and it might end up as the year’s best album. But that feels entirely incidental—it sounds like nothing else this year, or the year before, or the year before that one. Nor does it fit into any recent musical development beyond an incidental affinity with the resurgence of analog hardware amongst electronic producers. Quite a lot has happened in dance music since Drukqs, and this album is wholly ignorant of it all. In its quirky, globe-spanning promotional rollout, comeback-ish aura and heightened disregard for the music around it, you may be tempted to draw a parallel with Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. But where that blockbuster looked backward, Syro looks in no obvious direction. And it could only be James’s work, even if it doesn’t quite feel like he just whipped together another AFX record, either. That’s probably because it’s not how, or likely why, this album came together.

-Jordan Rothlein

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