I am going to do this track-by-track countdown to the release, on February 13, 2014, the day prior to Valentine’s Day, of my book in the estimable 33 1/3 series. It is a love letter to Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year, less than a month after my book’s publication. More on my Aphex Twin book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com. The plan is to do this countdown in the reverse order, from last track to first. For reference, an early draft of the introduction is online, as is the book’s seven-chapter table of contents. The book’s publisher posted an interview with me when I was midway through the writing process.
There is some irony to doing this countdown since the book is already shipping to folks who pre-ordered it via an online retailer such as Amazon, but the official date stands, and that’s the target — the end date — of this countdown, February 13. And for what it’s worth, while the physical copies are mailing now from retailers, the Kindle version won’t turn on until February 13. Still, the digital version costs less.
As I’ve noted on Twitter, this track-a-day approach is exactly the opposite of the book’s approach, which is a collection of interrelated, reporting-based essays.
And when I come across images of the book in people’s Twitter and Instagram feeds, I’ve been including them in these coundtown posts — especially when they involve eating food from a restaurant in my neighborhood:
It opens with drums like one of Peter Gabriel’s Middle Eastern excursions, from his Last Temptation of Christ score. This doesn’t last long, but it makes an impression. The beat is analog, rough, inexact. The separation, the echo, seems physical, not an effect — it isn’t the separation of a sound put through a machine, but of a drum at some distance. Then a bass line of sorts kicks in. It’s thick and low level. Not subaural, but certainly close to sub-melodic. The tones are so low they don’t seem to be tuned. They’re thick moving parts that make little sense on earbuds or headphones. Their intended recipient isn’t your ear but your chest. Then a raspy little Casio percussive. Then a wicked little keyboard riff. If Aphex Twin ever sounded like Money Mark (who was so prominent on the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head two years prior), this is that moment.
And here it is reversed:
Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.