Aphex Twin Flies a Blimp Through Other Album Rollouts

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 08.18.14 in News

The blimp has a curious history throughout the music industry’s booms and busts. It’s only fitting given Led Zeppelin‘s name, of course, that Atlantic Records would use small, inflatable models of an airship to promote the band’s second album, in 1969. Axl Rose once talked of wanting to hire the Goodyear Blimp for a show; when Chris Cornell pointed out the Fuji Blimp is bigger, Rose said, according to Cornell, “That’s it! It’s gotta be the Fuji Blimp.” Late-’90s boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman turned out to have told someone else’s blimp-obsessed life story as his own. The Rolling Stones announced their 2002 tour after descending from a yellow blimp with their logo on it.

It remains to be seen where Aphex Twin‘s current project fits in this industry lore. On Saturday, August 16, a blimp with the year “2014″ on the side, and the electronic-music innovator’s logo in place of the “0,” flew over London — NME has a picture. A photo of the logo was also taken near New York’s Radio City Music Hall, as you can see below.

Although album sales are nowhere near what they once were, some album promotional rollouts have been more and more extravagantly conceived in recent years. Beyoncé‘s surprise album; “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s week of music videos tied to the release of Mandatory Fun; Daft Punk‘s myriad teasers and Random Access Memories listening party in Wee Waa, Australia; Boards of Canada‘s various codes that eventually led fans to a Tomorrow’s Harvest album premiere in the Mojave Desert; Arcade Fire‘s Reflektor graffiti and costumed, pseudonymous shows. If what Aphex Twin is promoting with his blimp happens to be an album, he will at once have come up with a (physically) bigger stunt and, perhaps, sent up the culture that celebrates ever-bigger album-rollout stunts.

Richard D. James being Richard D. James, though, it’s too soon to say what exactly to expect. He said in a 2010 interview he had six albums finished. But he hasn’t released a proper Aphex Twin full-length since 2001′s Drukqs. Even a tour would be something of a novelty: His most recent live performances came in 2011 and 2012, including the premiere of new music alongside Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood in Poland.

The demand is certainly there, blimp or no blimp. One rare Aphex Twin test pressing recently sold for $46,300. An unreleased 1994 album named after his Caustic Window alias raised $67,424 earlier this year on Kickstarter.

Captain Beefheart understood: “It’s the big hit! It’s the blimp! It’s the blimp! … The mothership!”