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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New Silence from Aphex Twin

The account of user18081971 has become a void.


At some point in the past 24 hours, the 260 some odd tracks in Aphex Twin’s have gone missing. In the past he’s deleted and re-added them, so they may show up again.

Before he had the user18081971 account, whose seemingly generic numerals in fact represent his birthday, he used the account user48736353001. That account went blank in advance of the tracks appearing under the user name user18081971.

There’s a detailed spreadsheet of the tracks associated with the account, via a Reddit user. The spreadsheet includes the brief commentary that Aphex Twin posted in the bio field for the account. Among these were political references, shoutouts to listeners, and a brief notice about the recent death of visual artist Paul Laffoley.

For the time being this development means that the Selected Ambient Works Volume 3 beta playlist I have been developing is now blank. I may be able to recreate it based on YouTube re-postings of the audio.

There remain six tracks at

Update (November 26, 2015): One thing that does remain at the user18081971 account is a collection of likes, at this count 32, ranging from a µ-Ziq track dating back to 1993 to a recording of Nikola Bašić’s sea organ in Zadar, Croatia, the latter of which has achieved 2.7 million listens.

Update (November 28, 2015): And a few days later, the account is no longer empty. Back on the page is a track whose purpose is for him to ask people to post links to their own music. This track clearly isn’t new. It must have been made private and then brought back, because it has comments going back weeks.

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Slurred and Unscrewed: Aphex Twin Reworks Himself

Two self-revisions surface on his user18081971 account.


The “spotlight” feature on SoundCloud is how a given individual account can highlight tracks, raising up to five of them to the top of the account page. The spotlight feature can also hide new tracks in plain sight. If you pay attention regularly to a given account, you’ll often peek below the spotlight to see what is new. However, new tracks don’t appear at the top of the regular feed if they’re — well — already spotlighted.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying several new Aphex Twin tracks popped up recently on his account, in addition to the revised “Avril 14th” I mentioned earlier this month. In fact, perhaps my single favorite post-seclusion track is among the recent uploads. The track was part of the original Aphex Twin SoundCloud mother(up)load, back when he was disguised as user48736353001, before becoming user18081971. And then for awhile it disappeared, as his tracks are wont to do. Here it is:

What it is is Richard D. James playing his much loved, oft-sampled, movie-accompanying “Avril 14th” — originally on his 2001 album Drukqs — backwards. Now, there are backwards versions of many of James’ tracks, including all of Selected Ambient Works Volume II, floating around, especially on YouTube. Backward listening provides lots of insight, and not all of it Satanic. It gives the listener a sense of structure and tonality apart from the original. But this version isn’t simply “Avril 14th” reversed by a fan in Audacity. What it is is all the notes of “Avril 14th” played backwards in sequence, by Aphex Twin himself. The brief accompanying track note states:

[[tapedel] played & programmed customised Yamaha Disklavier Pro, Recorded To Nagra IVS 5″]

What’s funny about this distinction is that he goes so far as to make that the title of the track: “avril 14th, notes played backwards, not the audio.” And what results is unmistakably reminiscent of the original, but as if played with gloves on, the melody half-remembered. And it is absolutely beautiful. Music can be over-heard all too easily, and it’s remarkable how simply hearing the notes in reverse order provides comfortable proximity and yet the freshness of something somehow new.

Another recent Aphex/user18081971 highlight is “Th1 [evnslower].” It is just that, the track “Th1 [slo],” which appeared about nine months ago on the account, slurred and unscrewed: the original 6.5-minute drone stretched to nearly twice its length:

The original “Th1 [slo]” was part of the Selected Ambient Works Volume 3 beta playlist’s starter set that I first put together, and the “[evnslower]” edit has, of course, been added to the playlist, bringing the set to 14 tracks total:

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The Next 33 1/3 Books

Wendy Carlos, Pharcyde, Japan, and Angelo Badalamenti are in the mix

Back on September 30, when the 33 1/3 series posted the “shortlist” of potential titles, the list had been whittled down by the publisher, Bloomsbury, to 83 prospective titles from the proposed 605. I listed, at the time, the 19 I was especially hopeful for, based on their subject matter. Today 33 1/3 announced the 16 that had been commissioned, and 6 of the ones I was hopeful for made the cut:

The Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde — Pharcyde
Homogenic — Björk
Switched-On Bach — Wendy Carlos
Tin Drum — Japan
Twin Peaks OST — Angelo Badalamenti
Uptown Saturday Night — Camp Lo

And on top of those, there are four more I’m especially interested in that I hadn’t noticed when the shortlist was posted: Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Peepshow, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Lou Reed’s Transformer, and Fugazi’s In on the Kill Taker, the latter especially because it’s by Joe Gross, who is sure to do a great job.

Congrats to all the new authors. I’m excited that you’re keeping strong the series that published my book on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I’m happy to see so many albums on the 33 1/3 list I want to read about. And I’m happy, for the breadth and life of the 33 1/3 series, to see plenty of LPs I don’t particularly want to read about.

Read the full list at

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Two More Ambient Pieces from Aphex Twin

Their layered waveforms bring Selected Ambient Works Volume III closer to reality


Aphex Twin’s account has waned and waxed in recent weeks. It hovered around 250 total tracks for quite awhile, then dipped down to 236 — which specific tracks disappeared wasn’t entirely clear — and now it’s back up to a high of 260. Among those newer tracks are two particularly ambient pieces: “4 Voice Solo 1 Teac” and “4 Voice Solo 2 Teac.”

Both are simple sequences of layered waveforms, very reminiscent of the gentler moments of Selected Ambient Works Volume II. They’re the first in awhile that felt like natural companions to the earlier 11 pieces from user18081971 that I’ve been compiling as part of a prospective Selected Ambient Works Volume III beta album:

Tracks originally posted at More on my ongoing Selected Ambient Works Volume III beta playlist.

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Aphex Twin’s Selected Fridge Recordings

A new track makes for the 11th proper ambient piece amid his nearly 250 user18081971 uploads.

Aphex Twin uploaded a fresh batch of new old tracks to his user18081971 SoundCloud account this past week or so, about 20 in all. The activity followed a three-month break. As of this writing, there are 249 items in the account. The flurry coincided with the commercial release of Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-08, under his AFX moniker. He has become quite adept at using free archival music as a means to increase attention to the work he actually puts up for sale. As “experimental” as his commercial music can be, many of the free tracks are more straightforward in their experimentation. That is to say, they are not merely “experimental,” but also “experiments”: they appear to be test runs of equipment and very rough initial sketches of ideas. Many among the recent batch are modular synthesizer experiments, enough of them that he took the time to collate them in a playlist that currently has 11 parts over the course of half an hour. One highlight is the droning mechanics of “Lecce – Voltage Controlled Acoustic Resonators,” which indeed sounds like the industrial noise of a very large machine. The source of the material is, characteristic for ever-ambiguous Aphex Twin, unclear. The track includes a three-word liner note: “custom helmholtz resonators,” and down below in the comments he has a back and forth with someone who suggests it was an actual refrigerator he recorded back in 2011 while he was touring Italy:


And here’s a video of that Italy performance, at a far more frenetic pace than the archival audio:

The track is certainly deeply ambient, whether that ambient is the figurative effort of him in the studio, or the practical matter of everyday background noise framed in a four and a half minute field recording. In either case, I’ve added it to my Selected Ambient Works 3 (beta) playlist, which now numbers 11 pieces and a playing time of nearly an hour.

Track originally posted at

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