Hey, Who's That Face in My Song?

2:00 a.m. May 10, 2002 PDT

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Edward Spiegel, the product director of U&I Software, the San Francisco Bay Area company that publishes MetaSynth, said most of Aphex Twin's Windowlicker was created in MetaSynth.
“It's definitely MetaSynth,” he said. “I know (James) uses the software. He's mentioned it in a number of interviews, and he wrote Eric a fan letter a number of years ago.”

The Windowlicker EP also contains a number of telltale sound effects that are difficult to create in other synthesizer packages, Spiegel said. However, Spiegel wasn't aware of the images embedded in the songs.

James couldn't be contacted for an interview, but his face has become his trademark image. Although he's somewhat reclusive, James has used warped images of his smiling face in many of his videos and CD cover art. He gained notoriety a few years ago for a video depicting a gang of feral kids menacing old ladies. The entire gang sported his face superimposed on their bodies. The sleeve of Windowlicker shows the body of a buxom bikini-clad beach babe with James' grinning, bearded face Photoshopped on top.

It seems James is one of the first mainstream musicians to embed images in his music. Spiegel was unaware of any other examples in popular music.

It would be difficult, however, for the technique to be used by conventional artists.

“It doesn't sound a lot like music,” commented Joshua Schachter, who runs Memepool, one of the first websites to publicize the discovery. “More conventional artists like Britney Spears would have some trouble hiding this.”