Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 14 (“Parallel Stripes”)

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


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:

As mentioned yesterday, the most intense, beat-driven track on the album is arguably “Shiny Metal Rods,” and one should be sensitive to the plight of an individual who listens to the preceding track, “Parallel Stripes,” cozies up to the warm embrace of the speakers (or, forbid such a thing, turns up the headphones) during its lulling static-as-substance ambience, and then is hit with the intensity of “Shiny Metal Rods.” As I write in the book, this track is sine wave as form, and the wave emerges out of roughness, out of a “burr of static,” as I put it, that is the equivalent of a fried radio signal. The track just prior to this is, in essence, the album’s single, and also its literal centerpiece (track 13 of 25), “Blue Calx.” Combined, “Blue Calx” (melody), “Parallel Stripes” (pure ambience), and “Shiny Metal Rods” (minimalist beats) in just three consecutive tracks tell the story of this album. More on “Blue Calx” tomorrow.

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.

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