Aphex Twin – Windowlicker

29th February 2024 · 1990s, 1999, Dance, Music

Once seen, you’ll never get this video out of your mind. Especially this, Chris Cunningham’s full ten-and-a-half minute version of Windowlicker by Aphex Twin.

Chris Cunningham’s film is a sleazy satire of toxic male culture presented as a parody of the worst aspects of American gangsta rap videos in the late ’90s, with their braggadocio and misogyny.

It’s simultaneously funny and creepy, getting progressively creepier towards the end, and Aphex Twin’s equally sleazy music – a swirling mish-mash of R&B, glitchy ambient and nosebleed techno, and dub effects – enhances the horror.

As does its creator Richard D. James’s eventual appearance in the video with his white suit and trademark shit-eating grin.

The title, I now learn, refers to the French term for window shopping – faire du lèche-vitrine – which translates as window-licking: a reference to the two foul-mouthed young men window-shopping for women in the video.

I remember going to The Roundhouse for a night of Cunningham’s films and videos including this one, and Aphex Twin’s previous release, the even scarier Come To Daddy. It was not a comfortable experience.

And I remember going to an Aphex Twin gig somewhere like Somerset House where you were given headphones and walked through different rooms where you could either see James perform – but not hear anything – or hear the music but not see him.