Assembling a retrospective of Aphex Twin's decade-plus remix work on two discs is like slapping a painting each from Picasso's Pink, Blue, and Cubist periods into one book and pretending it's cohesive enough to make sense. Richard D. James (Aphex) has gone through at least as many stylistic phases as the Spanish artist, but what makes things even more confounding for casual admirers of his work is that he never puts any of them down. So 26 Mixes for Cash
contains this year's obsessively complex "Acid Edit" -- based on James' own "Windowlicker" masterpiece -- rendered in an aesthetic that serious knob-twiddlers left for fallow in 1992 (that is, acid house). Likewise the almost universally reviled gabber style (brutally fast and intentionally obnoxious) is right there, pounding away in all its pummel-your-auditory-cortex-with-failing-hydraulic-pumps glory in his version of Kinesthesia's "Triachus." James has made his name on not giving a fuck, and his fan-hating, masturbatory attitude to releasing music (manifested in his avoidance of interviews and in his prolific label, Rephlex, which serves to scratch his every esoteric itch) is addicting -- like the work of Andy Kaufman or Charles Manson.
The compilation is about as dense, heterogeneous, and demanding a listen as can be found in electronic music. Deeply druggy throughout, and with plenty of kitsch (the Eurocheese on DMX Krew's "You Can't Hide Your Love" can be cut with a black leather-handled knife), this stuff won't dispel any of the mad-genius rumors swirling around James. Fortunately, the album does eliminate many of his pointless overindulgences. Oftentimes, a collection of remixes doesn't hold together as a thing-in-itself (as Kant would put it), but this one ranks up there with Kruder and Dorfmeister's K&D Sessions as one of the mightiest, most sonically rewarding compilations of alternative versions ever put together.