…I Care Because You Do

Transitional album. Jammed awkwardly somewhere between the toned, dreamlike stupor of Selected Ambient Works Vol. II and the frenzied genius drum programming and languid strings of The Richard D. James Album…I Care Because You Do is a pretty notable failure, and clearly a compromise between two distinct sounds. Mind you, I’m a big RDJ fan, of both his earlier ambient work and his later wacko-drum-craziness stuff, but this one seems to hit the worst, least interesting aspects of both styles. I think it might even be unfair to compare …I Care Because You Do to other transitional albums like Sonic Youth’s EVOL or U2’s Unforgettable Fire, because at least those ones were reasonably consistent and had clear standouts. I’d say only “Alberto Balsalm” and “Acrid Acid Jam Shred” are really worth saving, the former for its success in capturing the spacey grooves of Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and the latter for being the only real technical achievement of the album, foreshadowing the superior material that’d appear on the first half of RDJ. Everything else is either annoying, boring, or both. Songs like “The Waxen Pith” and “Icct Hedral” look to explore drill & bass and acid house’s grotesque, burgeoning drum/synth tones while borrowing from Richard’s earlier ambient work, but end up sounding wholly unimpressive – he’s putting these sounds together, but not making them accentuate each other. “Cow Cud Is A Twin” is OK, I guess – nice break. The 4-track stretch from “Ventolin” to “Wet Tip Hen Ax” might be my least favorite thing on any Aphex twin album, ever; it’s equal parts headache and sleep-inducing. And closer “Next Heap With” ends the album on a truly awful note, just terrible arrangement. It’s the summation of everything wrong with the album – too long, too slow, bad tones all around, too ugly for its own good, not smart or detailed enough to enjoy technically. Richard would release a better version of this album, Hangable Auto Bulb EP, just four months later (under the name AFX), and would cap it off with the Donkey Rhubarb EP, the title track being the perfection of this style. So, yeah – grab those two aforementioned songs and the two EPs and you’ll be set. Skip.

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