Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 13 (“Blue Calx”)

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.

No new shots of the book in situ today, but this via the Twitter account of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, branch of the Rough Trade record shop in response to a reader’s query as to whether it’ll be in stock. There is, it so happens, a small bit in the book about the Sire label’s corporate account at the original Rough Trade shop in London.

There’s a reason why the two “extra” tracks on Selected Ambient Works Volume II, “Hankie” and “Stone in Focus,” appear close to either end of the record, at positions 4 and 19. It’s so that in both their absence, “Blue Calx” remains in the center: either track 13 of 25 or track 12 of 23. (In the edition of the record with 24 tracks, it’s slightly off center, remaining at 13, with 12 tracks preceding and 11 after.) It’s both the center and the odd track out in various ways — the one with a title expressed in actual, you know, words, right there on the album sleeve; one of the few (“Lichen” is another) with a proper melody; the only to have appeared elsewhere prior to album release (on the 1992 compilation The Philosophy of Sound and Machine). There’s much on the track in the book so I won’t go into much detail here, except to note that the melody always, to me, brings to mind a muted edit, a melodic reduction, of “Auld Lang Syne.” Auld lang sine wave.

Here is the version recorded by the ensemble Alarm Will Sound, in an arrangement by Caleb Burhans, about whom there is much in the book:

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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