February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Track by Track: Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II

All 25 posts in one handy place


What follows are links to 25 distinct posts, each about a different track from the album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which Aphex Twin released in 1994, and which I published a book about, two decades later in 2014, as part of the 33 1/3 series. I posted theses pieces in reverse order, from track 25 to track 1, in the 25 days leading up to the February 13, 2014, release of my book. This post serves to put them all in one place. Each entry includes streaming audio, alternate takes, and some initial track analysis drawn from my substantially more detailed research notes. With the exception of “Blue Calx,” the tracks are all untitled on the official release, but as in the book I employ the “fan” titles, derived from the album artwork, here:

1 “Cliffs”
2 “Radiator”
3 “Rhubarb”
4 “Hankie”
5 “Grass”
6 “Mould”
7 “Curtains”
8 “Blur”
9 “Weathered Stone”
10 “Tree”
11 “Domino”
12 “White Blur 1″
13 “Blue Calx”
14 “Parallel Stripes”
15 “Shiny Metal Rods”
16 “Grey Stripe”
17 “Z Twig”
18 “Window Sill”
19 “Stone in Focus”
20 “Hexagon”
21 “Lichen”
22 “Spots”
23 “Tassels”
24 “White Blur 2″
25 “Match Sticks”

Get the book at amazon.com (paperback and Kindle) or wherever 33 1/3 books are sold.

Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.

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Disquiet: 15, 10 & 5 Years Ago This Week (2014.07)

My first Diego Bernal, Max Neuhaus RIP, #NP

This would be roughly the week of February 10 through February 16.


5 Years Ago (2009): I feel like I’ve been listening to Diego Bernal’s tremendous atmospheric old-school hip-hop instrumentals for much longer than five years, and perhaps I have, but according to my searches, I first wrote about them five years ago this week; these days Bernal, who is a Texas-based civil rights attorney, is on the San Antonio city council, representing his district. He has less room in his life for music-making these days, but he collaborated this past September with Ernest Gonzales (aka Mexicans with Guns) on the album Atonement. … Also in the Downstream this week: raw materials from Peter Gabriel’s “Games without Frontiers”, great Red Bull Music Academy interviews (Wolfgang Voigt; Mario Caldato, Jr.), some Floridian field recordings from Michael Raphael. … I went back to the New Langton Arts exhibit I mentioned last week about graphically notated scores. … I quoted from Max Neuhaus’s obituary by Bruce Weber from the New York Times (he passed away five years ago on February 9):

The sound creates a space for itself with definite boundaries. You can only hear it within a few feet. But the main audible effect is not so much hearing it as hearing what it does to everything around it. It kind of slices up the sounds of that fountain splashing over there, for instance.

That’s Neuhaus pictured above at his Times Square sound installation. … And I noted an appearance by Otomo Yoshihide at an event in New York.

10 Years Ago (2004): I wrote at some length about the year’s Activating the Medium festival in San Francisco. … Downstream entries included a four-minute stretch of French desloation by Planetaldol, a video for Warp artist Req, video by Keith Fullerton Whitman, more video from Whitman, and an interview with Scanner.

15 Years Ago (1999): I wrote about the “NP” (“now playing”) bit people were adding to their email signatures. I mis-identified it as an emoticon, but heck it was 1999.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • Today's Aphex Twin SAW2 track has a beat made from a vocal—this on an album often described as beatless + vocal free: http://t.co/68YCLqYgCB ->
  • Duet for rain drops and distant siren. ->
  • rainy day -> Augustus Pablo ->
  • RT @touchmusic: Android version of Touch app now available here – http://t.co/JSH4ZNePsc ->
  • 5 days, 5 tracks to go in Aphex Twin SAW2 countdown. Today, the Fourth World rhythmic aura of "Grass": http://t.co/78QEseDbae ->
  • still raining -> Augustus Pablo -> Dub Narcotic Sound System ->
  • Man, it's been 5 years since this incredible graphic-notation score exhibit at New Langton in San Francisco: http://t.co/jVvOLy248Y ->
  • It's fun looking back 5/10/15 years each week. Love this quote from Greg Egan's Schild's Ladder: http://t.co/25uQ3VYJDI ->
  • I'd pretty much go back to Japan for any reason, but this exhibit looks especially interesting: http://t.co/Rjx0zt8bUv ->
  • Read more »
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Aphex Twin @ 33 1/3 (5/5): Aphex Twin Before + After SAW2 (2/2)

The fifth and final of five posts for the 33 1/3 website

The publisher of my Aphex Twin book, 33 1/3, an imprint of Bloomsbury, invited me to write blog posts this week to note the book’s official publication on Thursday, February 13, which is to say yesterday. The fifth and final of these five posts is up today: “Video Vault Part II: Aphex Twin Before + After SAW2.”

This is the opening of the piece, about half the post’s total length:

Richard D. James has more pseudonyms than Jason Bourne and Fernando Pessoa combined. So, it isn’t quite right to say he didn’t release anything after Selected Ambient Works Volume II for a full year. Quite the contrary, there was a steady flow of material, much from the close-proximate moniker AFX. However, the next official Aphex Twin album came almost exactly a year later: an EP of remixes of a track titled “Ventolin.”

The EP announced itself immediately as being as intentionally far from Selected Ambient Works Volume II as one might get. The opening whine of the first track is an intense, painful, irritating sound — deliciously irritating — and it doesn’t let up for the length of the song, or for the length of the release, which is a series of reworkings of the same material. Alongside that whine is a powerful rhythmic crunch.

In the video, the machine whine is initiated by the simple push of a button, an elevator button. It’s pushed by a businesswoman. Her plight — she’s stuck in the elevator for the length of the video — initially alternates with shots of the asthma inhaler from which the track takes its name. It is seen emerging from a box, the steady ascent reminiscent of space-rocket launches, a correlation strengthened by the slow-motion docking of the inhaler and mouthpiece later in the video.

Read the full piece, and see the associated video, at 333sound.com.

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Aphex Twin @ 33 1/3 (4/5): Aphex Twin Before + After SAW2 (1/2)

The fourth of five posts for the 33 1/3 website

The publisher of my Aphex Twin book, 33 1/3, an imprint of Bloomsbury, has invited me to write blog posts this week to note the book’s official publication on Thursday, February 13. The fourth of these five posts is up today: “Video Vault Part I: Aphex Twin Before + After SAW2.”

This is the opening of the piece, a little less than half post’s total length:

Selected Ambient Works Volume II‘s release on the label Warp in 1994 was framed by the pair of singles that directly preceded and succeeded it, both of which were EPs that had accompanying videos. The two EPs are intense in their own ways, and work to further emphasize the unusually vaporous qualities of the album.

Just before the record came “On,” a frenetic track whose surreal video — stop motion by the sea shore — was directed by Jarvis Cocker, best known as a member of the band Pulp. A native of Sheffield, England, like the founders of Warp, Cocker had, along with his directing partner Martin Wallace, previously made videos for such Warp-label roster members as Nightmares on Wax and Sweet Exorcist.

Read the piece in full, and see the corresponding video, at 333sound.com.

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