The king returns.
The track is saved by the startling middle section. We've heard plenty of dystopian, disintegrating breakdowns from James before, but this shock-and-awe makes the preceding passage sound like an expert setup rather than a predictable intro. Stuttering gates, ratcheting triplets and rolls, detuned leads and the laddering resonance on the filter sweeps are tightly organised, but they feel like they're collapsing in real time. When we're given a reprieve after three minutes, it's like dust settling after a supernova.
"T69 Collapse" hits a sweet spot that will please Aphex fans. It's almost like a best-of retrospective condensed into five minutes. While some of its ideas are familiar, the power to shock is still there. It may not warrant weeks of headline news and a momentous build-up of anticipation, but it's a relief that, when the time comes, Aphex's music can still do the talking.