What does Aphex Twin get up to in his spare time? Think about that question for a minute. Dance music's greatest genius. The guy who once DJ'd with sandpaper. Bought a tank for a laugh (well actually, armoured scout car as Fact Magazine once found out) and lived in an old bank in Elephant & Castle.
We're a little closer to the truth thanks to a fascinatingly geeky interview on Warp's website where the elusive Richard D James interviews another synthesizer genius, former Korg engineer Tatsuya Takahashi.
The pair collaborated on Takahashi's last project for Korg, the Monologue synthesizer (James contributed presets and tunings for the acclaimed instrument). And it seems according to their chat, in between making music in the studio, James spends a lot of that time researching sonic science. The pair discuss 440 HZ instrument tuning (the tuning standard introduced by Western governments in the 1940s) including books on electronic instruments published in the 1940’s. "I’ve also read studies from the old Philips laboratories in the Netherlands that show orchestras average deviation from 440 Hz was measured over many concerts and was seen to differ by a few Hz. Pretty anal."
Over the rest of the interview the pair chat about Cymatics (using sound frequencies to affect matter like when scientists use frequencies to displace grains of rice in a bowl) and geometry. "I absolutely love geometry," says James. "I did a track called 'Dodeccaheedron,' a long time ago, one of my fave tracks."
James recorded the song Korg Funk 5 using only the Monologue and other Korg gear and his son on vocals.