Is Aphex Twin's new EP named after this hardware sequencer?

cirklon
(Image credit: Sequentix)

Aphex Twin has released a new EP. Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 is Richard D. James' first official release of new material since 2018's Collapse EP.

The four-track EP has been warmly received by fans, some of whom have spotted a reference to a particular piece of equipment buried in the album artwork on the inner sleeve of the EP's physical release. (No, it's not the 1010music Blackbox, as you might expect.)

Pictured below, the artwork shows a digitally rendered cube adorned on two sides with what appear to be buttons and knobs from the Sequentix Cirklon hardware sequencer. The track names and credits also appear on a screen that looks identical to the Cirklon's display. 

aphex twin

(Image credit: chenGOD / Warp Records)

aphex gwin

(Image credit: o00o / Warp Records)

This suggests that the "blackbox" referenced in the EP's title is likely to be the Cirklon. There may be an intriguing double meaning at play here, too; the phrase "black box" is another name for a flight recorder, an electronic device placed in aircraft that records flight history and pilots' conversations to help authorities piece together the final moments of a plane and its passengers after a crash. 

This isn't the first bit of gear that James has named a track after; the 2016 Cheetah EP was named after the Cheetah MS800 synth

Forgive us for getting a little deep here, but we were quite taken with one Aphex Twin fan's interpretation of this parallel. We Are The Music Makers forum member Hodorsbn suggests that the sequencer can act like a flight recorder, helping us to record impressions of our lives through musical expression; perhaps the tracks that we create function in the same way as a black box recording, preserving something of ourselves for others to piece together when we're gone. The video for Blackbox Life Recorder 21f is dedicated to James' parents, who passed away in 2020 and 2022. 

Whatever the deeper meaning may be, it seems all but certain that the Cirklon inspired the name of James' latest release; he's made his affection for the sequencer clear in the past, naming several tracks after it and even using it to create music to soundtrack Sequentix's 2017 Superbooth promo video

This isn't the first bit of gear that James has named a track after. The 2016 Cheetah EP was named after the Cheetah MS800, an obscure synth that's notoriously difficult to program, while a cut from the 2014 album Syro was named after Korg's Mini Pops drum machine. 

The album art for Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 was designed by James' longtime collaborator Weirdcore; the front cover depicts a large cube made up of images of synthesizer modules and circuit boards. Can you spot anything else you recognize? Let us know. 

Listen to the new EP on Aphex Twin's Bandcamp or watch the video for Blackbox Life Recorder 21f below. 

Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a synthesizer. 

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