How Aphex Twin uses sampling? (Sampling Techniques)

AUD210 Week 3 Sampling




Aphex Twin is a recording alias used by English electronic musician Richard David James (a.k.a RDJ). Growing up in the 80s and kickstarting his career in the 90s, RDJ basically got his sound in the era when analog technology is starting to be replaced by digital technology. He built his sound around various analog gears, but also fully utilising the benefits of digital audio for his arsenal. Although RDJ has a reputation for being opaque for his production techniques, some of his signature gear and techniques keeps reappearing throughout his career. This time, we will be focusing on his approach of sampling when he is producing under the name Apex Twin.


Analogue samplers have been a core part of James’s sound since his teenage years. He even claims that he built a sampler for a college project over the course of a year. However, His most frequently used sampler is the vintage Casio’s FZ-1 (and FZ-10 rack-mounted version), a hybrid synth and sampler keyboard with a digitally-controlled analog filter famous for its unique bite. In his track Quoth in his 1993 album Surfing on Sine Waves, the unique drum sounds is the result of an afternoon spent in a scrapyard beating metal with hammers and then fed into an FZ-10. Apart from sampling his custom sounds, RDJ also designed his own quirk for the FZ sampler to create glitchy corrupted data sound by quickly turning the sampler on and off. These unique sound together with his creativity to creating beats all contributed to his signature insane drum sounds. Some more example for his custom unique drum sounds can be found in tracks like CAT 00897-AA1 and Zeroes and Ones.


In contrary of common electronic music practices, he is not a big fan of sampling from other popular tracks and instrument libraries. Since the start of digital era of music production, he would play and record his own instrument samples ranging from piano to trumpet and many more through ProTools and experiment by feeding the signal to different samplers. However, he caught on with the sampling trend in the 90s to sample dialogues in films or various personal conversation. He even built tracks around the idea of the sampled dialogues as significant musical hooks in tracks like Every Day.


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