Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 3 (“Rhubarb”)

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:

The beauty of this track comes down to one single note. When the track starts, the short melodic phrase that defines it is two notes, the second of them held, followed by three notes. At some point along the way, this becomes three notes followed by three notes. From a compositional standpoint, that is the only change in the song. Everything else is sound design.

There is no track on which I did more research that didn’t end up in the book than this one. In addition to the extensive description of and rumination on this beautiful, simple piece of music in the book, I conducted two detailed interviews I did with two different guitar players who separately transcribed the work for solo guitar and uploaded their versions, one of which you can hear here:

Here is a remix by Wisp, whom I talk about in the book:

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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