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

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That New Aphex Twin Track

It's a tasty one

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Get it while it’s available. Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, aka AFX, aka the musician behind the Selected Ambient Works Volume II album I wrote the book about for the 33 1/3 series, having previously wiped clean his SoundCloud account, suddenly, yesterday, popped a new track up, “Diskhat ALL Prepared1mixed [snr2mix].” I tweeted the arrival at the time (twitter.com/disquiet), but am only now getting around to a post.

It’s a minor downtempo masterwork, the plinky pianos against loose-snare vaguely funky-drummer beats sounding more like early DJ Cam, or DJ Krush, or Funki Porcini for that matter, than like what folks might necessarily expect from Aphex Twin. Its appearance coincides with the release of the new EP Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2, and this freely downloadable track appears to be a slight variation on the EP’s opening cut. After an album, the widely praised Syro, that sounded like it was recorded shortly after his 2001 Drukqs, it’s especially refreshing to hear something that sounds unlike him, even if, peculiarly, from a stylistic standpoint, it sounds like it was recorded before Drukqs.

Highly recommended. And, again, download now, because he’ll almost certainly soon enough again wipe clean that SoundCloud account. Speaking of which, does anyone reading this have a copy of the alternate version of “Avril 14th” he briefly had on his SoundCloud account?

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/richarddjames.

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My Aphex Twin Book: a 33 ⅓ Bestseller for 2014

Welcome news from my publisher

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cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteThis is very nice news. I just learned this morning that my book in the 33 1/3 series, on Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, is one of the top 10 bestsellers in the series for all of 2014. That’s out of over 100 books. The 100th in the series, by Susan Fast, on Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous, came out in September. I’m especially happy that two largely lyric-less albums, mine and Ferguson’s Donuts, made the list. Also, Ferguson was one of the authors I brought in to work on those comics I edited for the recent Tokyo festival put on by Red Bull Music Academy. His comic was on Isao Tomita. Anyhow, below is the top 10 list of 33 1/3’s 2014 bestsellers in full. My book, which was published on February 13, 2014, and is now in its second printing, came in #5:

  1. J Dilla’s Donuts by Jordan Ferguson

  2. Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kirk Walker Graves

  3. Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville by Gina Arnold

  4. Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast

  5. Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II by Marc Weidenbaum

  6. Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality by John Darnielle

  7. Oasis’ Definitely Maybe by Alex Niven

  8. Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim Cooper

  9. Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique by Dan LeRoy

  10. Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love by Carl Wilson.

News via the 33 1/3 blog at 333sound.com.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Jan 2014: “You’re publishing a book on Aphex Twin? Does he do anything anymore?”

Dec 2014: “Aphex Twin’s Syro nominated for a Grammy.”

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The Year of Aphex Twin

And the (temporary?) end of a SoundCloud account

My book on the 1994 Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Volume II is now, I have learned, in its second printing (Amazon, Powell’s), which is pretty great. The book was published back in February as part of the 33 1/3 series, and I had a blast doing readings at City Lights in San Francisco and Powell’s in Portland, and giving talks and presentations (in person and via Skype) at various institutions, including SETI. As it turns out, that February publication was in advance of what has turned out to be, quite unexpectedly, the Year of Aphex Twin, starting with the logo-festooned blimp over London that coincided with his birthday, continuing to a full-length album on the Warp label (Syro), and moving on to a deep dive into his archives thanks to tracks posted on his SoundCloud account. For the moment, that SoundCloud account appears to have been wiped clean, sadly, but I’m hopeful it’s a temporary thing, because the reversed version of “Avril 14th” was quite lovely.

This post first appeared in the Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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Aphex Twin Reverses Himself

"Avril 14th," there and back again

Aphex Twin, aka Richard D. James, continues his return to semi-public existence as a musician by posting to his under-appreciated SoundCloud account, soundcloud.com/richarddjames, which as of this writing has just 7,089 subscribers. The account got some coverage this past week when he posted recordings attributed to his young son. He also revisited some of his own more youthful music, specifically “Avril 14th.” Originally appearing on the 2001 album Drukqs, “Avril 14th” is one of Aphex Twin’s most licensed tracks, having, among other things, appeared in a Sofia Coppola movie and been sampled as part of a Kanye West track (“Blame Game,” off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). The newly posted “Avril 14th Reversed Music Not Audio” is exactly that, not the song played backwards by reversing the recording, but the song played backwards a note at a time. The echo in the room is strong and seems to share a certain resonance with “Aisatsana,” the final track off Aphex Twin’s Syro, the recent album that marked his return to active pop-culture duty. It says something about the structural simplicity of the original “Avril 14th” song that the melody reversed sounds no less composed, no less thoughtful, no less lovely.

Of course, an Aphex Twin release is, as always, as much the beginning of a process as it is the end, which is to say post-release treatments have followed, such as the inevitable and welcome “what happens when you reverse the reversed” version. Hearing the melody unfold as a series of reversed notes is like listening to a funhouse mirror made of cellophane. It’s an instant-classic example of making the familiar exotic, and brings to mind the machinations that Hans Zimmer employed with the Inception score by interpolating Édith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien.” Here is the reversed reversal of “Avril 14th” by a Eugene, Oregon–based musician who goes by the name Granola:

And here, related to that room-resonance comment up top, is “Aisatsana,” off Syro:

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