My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

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Aphex Twin Organizes His Record Collection

Collating the post-Singularity archival uploads

The musician alternately known as Aphex Twin and user48736353001 and Richard D. James has begun collating his own voluminous SoundCloud uploads. He’s doing it by era. The first of these is labeled “saw1 era,” relating to the period represented by his Selected Ambient Works 85-92 album. There’s no overlap between the “saw1 era” set and the one I’ve compiled of music reminiscent of Selected Ambient Works Volume II, a set I’ve described as Selected Ambient Works Volume III (beta). The main marker is how much the beat was subdued — subsumed — in the transition between 85-92 and Volume II. Of course, the beat later returned with a vengeance, first with a harsh screech on the “Ventolin” single, and then with the rubbery, ecstatic rhythms that marked much of Aphex Twin’s later, mid/late-1990s music.

Because these tracks are likely to disappear at some point, here is the setlist for posterity’s sake:

“Sams Car”
“Afx origTheme”
“Original Chaos Riff”
“Nova Robotiks”
“21 Forgotten T”

Set originally posted at Thanks to Bruce Levenstein, aka Compact Robot, for pointing out the playlist to me.

Update: Later the same day, the set has expanded to about twice its original length, and has been renamed. It’s now “saw 1.5″ — that is, Selected Ambient Works Volume 1.5, a midpoint between 85-92 and Volume II — and the track list is now:

“Sams Car”
“Afx origTheme”
“Red Alert”
“Dance and Play”
“Nova Robotiks”
“21 Forgotten T”
“Original Chaos Riff”

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The SoundCloud Singularity Continues

µ-ZIQ, longtime Aphex Twin associate, joins him in the cloud post-release afterlife

Mike Paradinas’ presence on the comments of the rouge Aphex Twin uploads to SoundCloud was one of the key early confirmation points. Also known as µ-ZIQ, the name under which he among other things occasionally collaborated with Aphex Twin, Paradinas has begun filling up his SoundCloud account with a retro-archive of his often game-like tracks, such as the blippy joy that is “TFM,” a workout for the Technoid DR-550 drum machine. He joins Aphex Twin in uploading his musical memories to SoundCloud, a kind of recording-industry Singularity moment.

If we could vote for what early-1990s birth-of-IDM British-label stalwart would next fill up SoundCloud, I’d vote for Amon Tobin, Funki Porcini, Wagon Christ, Photek, or DJ Krush.

Track originally posted at

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Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume 3 (Beta)

A mixtape-in-progress, drawn from user48736353001's SoundCloud account

As of yesterday morning, there were 155 tracks in the rogue Aphex Twin account on SoundCloud, where Richard D. James has added the generic “user48736353001″ to his long list of monikers, among them AFX, Polygon Window, and Caustic Window.

Then quite suddenly, after a 17-day gap, there was a 156th track, “Lannerlog,” which I wrote about yesterday afternoon. Over on, someone subsequently wondered if the “spigot” might be in the process of being turned on, and that turned out to be the case. First there were three more tracks on the user48736353001 account, then 14 more, and as of this writing, a full day later, there are now 173 tracks total in the account.

I’ve begun compiling the above set, under the working title Selected Ambient Works Volume 3, as an imaginary sequel to Selected Ambient Works 85-92, whose earliest tracks are 30 years old as of 2015, and to Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I wrote a book on the latter album. It was published last year as part of the 33 1/3 series to note the Volume II album’s 20th anniversary.

What does and doesn’t belong in this Volume 3 is up for debate. I’m emphasizing material that has an apparent parallel to the material on Volume II, including tracks whose titles include a “SAWII” reference. If you happen to hear anything on Aphex Twin’s SoundCloud accounts that you think should be included, please let me know (I’m at, and I’ll see if they fit into this playlist. Arguably a Volume III in the series would have a distinct character to the previous volumes, much as Volume II was distinct from 85-92. The precise qualities of that character are unclear, and perhaps would draw from elements of the antic percussion that were evident on his later 1990s albums.

My 33 1/3 book has seven chapters, the last of which I titled “Selected Ambient Works Volume III” and in which I tried to piece together semblances of ambient work in the releases Aphex put out following the release of Selected Ambient Works Volume II. It was a purposeful exercise in well-intentioned, fully informed futility, the point being to note the distinction of Selected Ambient Works Volume II amid the broader catalog. All of which said, there is a considerable amount of material in the newly opened archive at the user48736353001 account that has the sinuous ambient quality of his early years, and that is well worth spending time with. I’ll be expanding this playlist as I continue to listen through the newly posted material.

And because Aphex Twin is more than likely to delete all these tracks at some point, I’ll also include the titles here, for posterity’s sake:

“35 SAW II Un Road Shimmer F”
“9 Un Chopped F Beginning [SAWII Un]”
“33 SAW II Un Stabbing Interview”
“4 Red Calx[slo]”
“5 Just Fall Asleep”
“blue carpet”
“Th1 [slo]”
“(watery big ez)”
“8 Lush Ambulance 2″
“11 Early Morning Clissold”

Of the current 173, there are several close calls, like “1 nocares” and 19 Ssnb, that I haven’t included here.

Setlist posted at My 33 1/3 book is available from many retailers, including, which is operated by the label, Warp, that releases the majority of Aphex Twin’s music. In my book I interview the individual who is largely responsible for the track names later associated with the songs on Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and who went on to work at Warp for a decade, during which time he helped to launch Bleep.

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If It Really Is User48736353001

Aphex Twin strikes again — that is, for at least the 156th time

That Aphex Twin SoundCloud account is going strong. A little more than two weeks since he’d seemingly topped it off at 155 tracks, a 156th track appeared earlier today. The newly arrived song’s name, “Lannerlog,” seems to come from Llannerlog, the name Richard D. James had given his studio in Cornwall toward the start of his public music-making. As the helpful WATMM message-board commenters noted almost a decade ago, “Llannerlog” sounds like “analog.” Laner is a town in Cornwall.

The new (that is, likely new old) track has the mix of near-subliminal melodic synth and understated, routinized, mesmerizing beat that helped define the concept of “ambient techno” and was the foundation of his Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and some of his early tracks under the alternate name Polygon Window, such as “If It Really Is Me” (off the 1993 album Surfing on Sine Waves), a song whose title seems more meaningful than ever.

Track originally posted at

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This Week in Sound: Chaucer’s Ear, Mouthing Words, Hearing Voices

A lightly annotated clipping service

  • CHAUCER’S EAR: There’s a new book about 14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales), which is something of a feat since we at this point know very well how little we known about him. The book is The Poet’s Tale: Chaucer and the Year that Made the Canterbury Tales, written by Paul Strohm. In a (characteristically unsigned) review in The Economist, we’re told what Strohm does in his history: “What he does instead is create a soundscape.” This is very promising, indeed. I am not accustomed to writing about books I have not yet read, but in this case I’m expressing enthusiasm and getting the word out. (Thanks for the tip, Scott Fletcher.)

  • MOUTHING WORDS: At Boing Boing, Kortny Rolston reports on technology that allows one to use one’s tongue to hear. This would potentially remove the need for cochlear implants. It is fascinating to understand that both the production and reception of speech might be accomplished with the same muscle. One thing that gets glossed over sometimes in writing about sound is how senses themselves overlap, that hearing is a form of tactile experience — a form of touch — and this tongue-listening development further blurs our received conception of what it means to be human.

  • HEARING VOICES: What did the development radio mean to voices that had previously not necessarily expressed authority? Christine Ehrick has uploaded to an essay titled “Vocal Gender and the Gendered Soundscape: At the Intersection of Gender Studies and Sound Studies” that serves as an advance notice on her book Radio and the Gendered Soundscape in Latin America: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930-1950, which will be published by Cambridge this fall. Ehrick is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Louisville, and she writes in detail not just about the way radio informed conceptions of gender, but also about the way the increase in sound studies is changing gender studies. In the class I teach we spend time on related topics by studying the work of Nina Power, specifically public address systems and how they relate to the notions of the feminine and the robotic. I guess, again, I am writing about a book I haven’t yet read — in this case one that has not yet even been published. The essay originated in the sound studies blog Sounding Out! this month as part of a forum on “Gendered Voices.”

This first appeared in the February 10, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

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