Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 1 (“Cliffs”)

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


cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteAnd this marks the final entry in the track-by-track reverse 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:

Second only to perhaps “Blue Calx,” which is the album’s centerpiece and the closest thing it has to a single, the opening track is the most familiar, if only because as it comes first, its start, if not its finish, is clearly discernible. The rest of the album can become a constant, singular whole except to particularly attentive listeners. It has been widely adopted, and used in film (in the book I speak with two directors who used it in their work, Lucy Walker and Jordan Melamed). It’s a sinuous piece, with a hint of a vocal, perhaps a female, whose wavering is a human approximation of the waveforms that constitute much of the record album.

Here it is in a performance by Alarm Will Sound. I spoke with the composer who transcribed the work and with the ensemble’s music director for the book:

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

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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