Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 4 (“Hankie”)

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.

I am enjoying seeing the book pop up in people’s Twitter and Instagram feeds:

And Mark Rushton, of Iowa City, managed to get his library to purchase a copy. He posted more images on his website:


The second most rare of the two rare tracks on the album, “Hankie” is one of the pieces that truly sounds like the sound design of an interstellar horror movie, and that’s on a record where just about everything could serve such a purpose. What would be more difficult to attribute to it is ease, which much of the record is often associated with, despite the darker underpinning.

It opens with a blood-in-the-ear swell, and proceeds to play host to these shimmery motifs, synthesized violins that seek the common ground between dramatic score and sound effect. The pace of that string section is, shortly after the mid-point, considerably quicker than the underlying pulse, and the whole thing can get stomach-churning at the correct volume.

This is the track that is on copies of the record with 24 but not 25 songs (the other rare piece being “Stone in Focus”).

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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