Aphex Twin
Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II


4.0
excellent

Review

by Killtacular USER (34 Reviews)
September 20th, 2005 | 169 replies | 25,095 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


7 of 8 thought this review was well written

Richard D. James, aka AFX, Caustic Window, and for this record, Aphex Twin, is one of the pioneers of electronica. His first venture into the ambient world contained techno beats, synth work, and complex programming abound. For his second try at ambience, he ditched beats in general and decided to go into a softer, minimalistic, more easy listening direction, or as I call it, the "Brian Eno Way." Unlike Mr. Eno, though, this record isn't so much soothing as it is nail-bitingly creepy. I'll be honest. This is a scary album. Not scary as in jump out and shout "Boo!" scary, but scary as in slow, mood setting pieces with subtle noises that would frighten you to death if you were out alone instead of at home where it's safe. Basically, this is a soundtrack for a haunted house.

Nearly all the songs here are dark, seedy compositions that don't exactly give off an aura of hope. Just like happiness, they also lack names, instead having just a picture (except for Blue Calx). Each picture coincides with a track, and gives a general idea as to the mood of the song. Radiator, for example, gives off the feeling that you're hearing someone play on, well, a radiator. Shiny metal rods sounds about like you could imagine shiny metal rods to sound like. This is more a trip into Industrial territory, more than anything, with it's pulsing percussion and grating synth. It sounds like an S&M bar located in a small, abandoned warehouse somewhere in Romania. Creepy. Hankie sounds like it belongs some sort of psychological thriller involving an axe murderer of some kind. Mold gives the impression that you're brain is eroding away, while you lie curled in your hopeless little ball wanting mommy. White blur 1 is composed mainly of what sounds like windchimes on a dark, stormy night with slow voice samples and static going in the background. Spots sounds exactly like you've always imagined a haunted house to sound like: a slow breeze with soft whispering by unseen figures.

Not everything here is on the dark side of things though. A select few tunes are fairly happy sounding. Hexagon is reminiscent of the Aphex of earlier works, with an actual beat and pulsing synth. Lichen gives off a general feeling of happiness with it's continuous Eno-like structure as soothing pitches weave back and forth. It makes you feel like all your troubles have passed you by. For the seven or so minutes you become ingrossed in the minimalist beauty of this song, they are. Z twig is just an easy going melody on what sounds like would be a type of pitched percussion, a la marimbas. The star of the entire album, or at least, the optimistic side, is the wonderful Rhubarb. About the only way to describe it is to imagine you're back inside your mother's womb. You're warm, cozy, and too happy to be disturbed by all that spicy food she seems set on eating. A general feeling of euphoria flows through you as you simply lull the day away. A masterpiece of ambience, truely. With these few tracks, Richard shows his compassionate side; that he's not all grating techno beats, high bpm's, and clunking electronic sounds.

This is one of Aphex Twin's crowning achievements, with it's terrifying soundscapes and creepy sounds. But also one with a gentle side, in it's few and far between happiness inducing pieces. These tracks as an album form what is likely one of the greater ambient experiences you could have in recent memory. One that's filled with dread, nervousness, and at times, sheer joy. These tracks are long, so they're easy to just zone out to while staring into space. That's not such a bad thing, though, as that's what it was designed for. If you try to pay too much attention to the goings on in this record, you could easilly become bored with it. That's understandable, as there's roughly 150 minutes worth of material here, so bide your time. Take it in a little per session, or float away all at once. Curl up, read a good book, and try to not call for Mommy.


SCRUPLES



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user ratings (548)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
InterruptingSheep (4)
A difficult but fascinating look into a less-heard side of Aphex Twin's output. Recommended for fans...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jawaharal
September 20th 2005



1832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

About time someone reviewed this

Killtacular
September 20th 2005



1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I figured I might as well while I had the opportunity.

Werny
September 20th 2005



148 Comments


I was expecting soothing and epic songs with this... boy was I wrong!

I've only listened to the first 3 songs, I always fall asleep. That's a good thing though. Maybe I'll chuck on some random songs later and give a more thorough comment.

The first song, Cliffs, is lovely. Radiator is the scariest song I've ever heard, that "REEERGH!" sound that gets louder and louder... erg!

Killtacular
September 20th 2005



1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Epic, yes. Soothing? Mmm.. sometimes. I think there are more creepy tracks than happy ones. Creepy can be soothing sometimes, though.

Shadows
Moderator
September 21st 2005



2530 Comments


Liar!

Very nice work. This genre has always interested me for strange reasons. Perhaps I may finally check it out! :eek: For than I shall be able to make a truly intelligent comment on the album!! :amazing:This Message Edited On 09.21.05

Killtacular
September 21st 2005



1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I insist that you check it out immediately.

Jawaharal
September 21st 2005



1832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Electronica is one of the best genres

Zebra
Moderator
September 21st 2005



2647 Comments


Great review. Aphex Twin is great.

Werny
September 24th 2005



148 Comments


I'm listening to it now on massive speakers. Nearly finished. The track 'Spots' was on, and it freaked the hell out of me, the simple sight of my dog was enough to make me jump.

Rhubarb is indeed awesome.

Well I like the contrast between the two disks, the first is more relaxing and minimalistic while the second is gosh darn freaky and has a lot more going on.

Awesome, ambience at its best, though it had to grow on me, and like most ambience, having crappy speakers that rumble when making loud noises etc. kinda ruins the experience.

Killtacular
October 29th 2005



1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good stuff.

Still.

ocelot-05
November 13th 2005



807 Comments


Goddamn it I have got to get this. I just need to somehow find it. They don't have shit cd's out here in Las Vegas.

slack
May 14th 2006



249 Comments


Love this album. Trees is my favorite song, and Cliffs. :D

"Freshly Baked"
May 17th 2006



583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album has been in my possesion for a couple of days, and it's easily the most powerful cd i've ever heard.

I actually well up when I hear Curtains, it's just so haunting, yet at the same time beautiful. The hopelessness in the music says more than words ever could.

This album is Changing the way I look at (Listen To) music.

And this CD has got to be the most bang for your buck anywhere. 2 Cd's for a little over 20 Bucks, and each of the 2 cd's are nearly 80 minutes. And the tracks are either very good or amazing. This album is similar to an Acid Trip/Salvia Trip in an abandoned warehouse. Easily the best Double Cd ever created.

My Fave Songs:

Curtains
Cliffs
Radiator
Tree
Window Sill
White Blur 2
Match SticksThis Message Edited On 05.17.06

undertakerpt
July 2nd 2006



1174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Could somone please explain to me how to get the best out of this album? Ive had it for about 4 months now and i love aphex twin, but this cd is different to his other stuff, please somone tell me how to enjoy this???

undertakerpt
July 27th 2006



1174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

actually, don't bother telling me, this album is amazing lol. The first disc has got to be the best, the way it starts with the high pitched relaxing sound of cliffs, all the way through to the eerie wind chimes of white blur. Grass has got to be my favourite track.

Zebra
Moderator
February 27th 2007



2647 Comments


I've only heard a few songs off of the first disc and the overall sound is drastically different from Selected Ambient Works 85-92. It has a much eerier, darker atmosphere that's kind of cool.

The Jungler
February 27th 2007



4827 Comments


[quote=Zebra]It has a much eerier, darker atmosphere that's kind of cool.[/quote]this makes me really want this.
I have one Aphex Twin CD, but I don't know where to go from there. Anyone have any suggestions?

Zebra
Moderator
February 27th 2007



2647 Comments


I Care Because You Do is his overall best, it's a mixuture of his ambient and crazy techno styles. Get Selected Ambient Works 85-92 if you want his strongest ambient stuff but if you want crazy Aphex Twin go for Richard D. James Album.
Or you could get Drukqs if you want some weird stuff.

The Jungler
February 27th 2007



4827 Comments


I have Richard D. James, and I have access to Drugks and I Care, so I'll probably check out the latter soon. I'm not huge on Ambient stuff, but maybe I'll pick up this or the other SAW.
thanks a bunch Zebra.

Eliminator
February 27th 2007



2067 Comments


Yeah, I Care Because You Do is good stuff.



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