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Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 16 (“Grey Stripe”)

A track per day up through the February 13 release of my 33 1/3 book

SAWII15

cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteI 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 it’s great to see it showing up in people’s homes:

If there are some tracks on Selected Ambient Works Volume II that are true to received wisdom about the album, that lack a proper beat, that lack the serial impact of something one might characterize as percussion, then track 16 (aka “Grey Stripe”), all four minutes and three quarters of it, might best stand for them. It sounds less like something readily recognizable as music, less even like ambient music, and more like a thunderstorm, a hurricane perhaps, as experienced from deep inside a building on a high floor, where the impact of the muffle is mirrored between how it sounds and how the building sways. This could be foley material lifted from a filing cabinet in the archives at Warner Bros. pictures — or perhaps, better yet, Hammer or Universal, sounds not from a stormy voyage out in the ocean, but from something in the territory of pulpy horror. It is an open-maw whorl of fierce, slow-moving wind.

And here it is reversed:

More on my Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com.

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

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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