Avril 14th

"Avril 14th" is an instrumental by the electronic artist Richard D James under his pseudonym Aphex Twin, released on the 2001 album Drukqs.

"Avril 14th"
Instrumental by Aphex Twin
from the album Drukqs
Released22 October 2001
GenreAmbient, classical
Length2:05
LabelWarp
A Disklavier piano

CompositionEdit

Whereas most of James's music is electronic, "Avril 14th" is recorded on piano.[1] Several critics likened it to the works of Erik Satie.[2][1] Fact described it as a "a butterfly-fragile float" of "piano calm".[3]

"Avril 14th" was recorded using a Disklavier, a piano with a mechanism that reads MIDI data and plays the keyboard without human input.[3] The clicking of the mechanism is audible on the recording.[1] According to Fact writer Scott Wilson, "The result is something that sounds human but not quite."[3]

ReceptionEdit

Reviewing Drukqs in 2001, Pitchfork wrote that tracks including "'Avril 14th' ... rove dangerously close to the Windham Hill new age aesthetic of the 80s".[2] It surprised some listeners expecting more electronic work, though Fact wrote in 2017 that the composition was "a perfect embodiment of Aphex and the line he constantly treads between the mechanical and the human".[1] As of April 2017, "Avril 14th" had been streamed 38 million times on Spotify, 32 million more than Aphex Twin's 1999 single "Windowlicker". By this metric, it is his best-known composition.[3]

AppearancesEdit

"Avril 14th" has been used in films including Marie Antoinette (2006), Four Lions (2010), and Her (2013).[3] For Four Lions, James rerecorded the track with a minor edit.[3] In 2007, "Avril 14th" was sampled for a song used in the SNL digital short "Iran So Far". As SNL owner NBC had not obtained the rights to use the track, the short was quickly removed from YouTube.[4]

The rapper Kanye West used elements of "Avril 14th" for his 2010 track "Blame Game". According to James, after he was sent an early version of "Blame Game" with a heavily timestretched sample of "Avril 14th", he offered to rerecord the piece at a different tempo; West's team replied with "It's not yours, it's ours, and we're not even asking you any more", and tried to avoid paying for its use.[5] The final "Blame Game" used a rerecorded version of "Avril 14th" rather than a sample, and James received credit.[6]

Alternative versionsEdit

In December 2018, Aphex Twin released two alternative versions of "Avril 14th" on his web store, subtitled "reversed music not audio" and "half speed alternative version". A third version was deleted from the store.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "7 pieces of gear that helped define Aphex Twin's pioneering sound". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  2. ^ a b "Aphex Twin: Drukqs". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "How Aphex Twin's piano lullaby 'Avril 14th' became a runaway pop culture hit". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  4. ^ Report, Post Staff (7 October 2007). "NBC Slept on Video's Digital Rights". New York Post. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  5. ^ Nast, Condé. "Aphex Twin Speaks on His New Album, Being Sampled by Kanye, More". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  6. ^ Michaels, Sean (2014-08-26). "Aphex Twin: Kanye tried to get away with not paying for Avril 14th sample". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  7. ^ "Aphex Twin has released two new versions of his classic track 'Avril 14th'". Mixmag. Retrieved 2019-04-20.