In October, Aphex Twin’s haunting lullaby ‘Avril 14th’ will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In the spirit of April 14th, the ubiquitous day of Aphex Twin worship, we’re taking a look at the song’s most defining soundtrack moments.
‘Avril 14th’ featured on the first disc of drukQs, Aphex Twin’s 30-track record, released to bypass a potential leak after he accidentally left behind an MP3 player of unreleased music on a plane. The melancholy piece has left an indelible mark in every crevice of pop culture. It was sampled (or ripped off) by Kanye West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy centrepiece ‘Blame Game’, and has been covered by a myriad of IDM and classical musicians.
In tribute to a song that has helped soundtrack so many lonesome, tote bag-slung walks through the city at night. Here are our favourite film moments.
Marie Antoinette (2006) dir. Sofia Coppola
No one speaks to female yearning quite like Sofia Coppola, from the delicate Air-indebted soundtrack of The Virgin Suicides, to the perennially screencapped scene of Scarlett Johansson walking plaintively through Tokyo to Jesus and the Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’.
With Marie Antoinette, Coppola leans on postpunk hits and gauzy instrumentals to soundtrack the leadup to the French Revolution. In the context of 17th century Versaille, ‘Avril 14th’ appears timeless.
Her (2013) dir. Spike Jonze
For those spiritually invested in the romance between Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze, the decision to soundtrack the Her trailer with ‘Avril 14th’ was transcendent. The tinfoil twee-fantasist part of our psyche obsessively drew links between Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Her. Though the directors have both denied that their respective films are about one another, it won’t stop us from dreaming.
The trailer would go on to be parodied on Saturday Night Live with the Jonah Hill-led, ‘Avril 14th’ soundtracked skit Him.
Can’t Get You Out of my Head (2020) dir. Adam Curtis
I dedicate more time Shazaming the soundtrack to Adam Curtis documentaries than I do watching them. If you haven’t already immersed yourself in the hallucinatory fever dream that is Can’t Get You Out of my Head you’re in for a treat — and perhaps an ego death.
A moral panic soundtracked by Aphex Twin, Burial, and Nine Inch Nails? right up my strasse. The six-part documentary is available to watch in full on Youtube, find episode one below.
Four Lions (2012) dir. Chris Morris
The idea of a satire about radicalised young British Muslim men sounds like a tactless trainwreck waiting to happen on paper. Chris Morris, however, is a master at his craft and managed to deliver a film so full of warmth, humanity, understanding, and balls-to-the-wall hilarity.
‘Avril 14th’ is used in the closing credits of the film, “I didn’t have music in mind for the closing credits initially,” Morris revealed of his decision to use the song. “’Avril 14th’” is the product of starting to see the film for what it actually is, as opposed to the experience of gathering the visual material.”
“That’s when your brain starts engaging and thinks, ‘Well, you need a melancholia coda here. Richard James [Aphex Twin] was brilliant.
“He re-recorded it because he’d sold the rights of the recording. He had it on some old ancient thing – it might have even been on a floppy disk, or something – so he dug that up.
“He played the piano part and recorded it with mics set up in various different parts of the room, and then he ran it forwards and backwards and in all these various different sequences. Then he sent them over. What a bloody geezer. Really good bloke.””