Windowlicker (1:01)

Cover of Windowlicker

From Windowlicker and 42 other releases

Windowlicker” is a 1999 single by electronic music artist Richard D. James, released under the Aphex Twin name on Warp Records. The single reached #16 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was later voted, by fans, as Warp Records’ most popular song, for its Warp20 compilation.

The name of the single comes from the derogatory British term “windowlicker”, meaning a mentally handicapped person. The term is also a direct English translation of the French term faire du lèche-vitrine, meaning “window shopper”, a second meaning played up in the song’s video.

“Windowlicker” consists of James’s voice modulated on computer, mixed with his trademark breakbeat snare rushes, drum samples, and mixed choir-like singing, resulting in a smooth yet erratic song, its last minute escalating into an extremely distorted wall of bass. Also included is a sample of James’s French then-girlfriend speaking in her native tongue saying J’aime faire des croquettes au chien, translating to “I love making dog nuggets”.

The single has two b-sides. Track two, commonly known as “Formula” or “Equation” due to its actual title being a complex mathematical formula (∆Mᵢ⁻¹ = −∂ ∑ Dᵢ [∑ Fⱼᵢ[n−1] + F extᵢ[n⁻¹]]), has a very experimental sound. Track three, “Nannou”, dedicated to his then-girlfriend, is made up of wind-up music box samples.

Viewing a spectrogram of the second track reveals hidden images of James’ face that were apparently synthesized as sound by Aphex Twin for the express purpose of being discovered in this manner.

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