I 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.
And when I come across images of the book in people’s Twitter and Instagram feeds, I’ve been including them in these coundtown posts:
The book’s emphasis on the peculiar persistence of the album’s reputation for being “beatless” is not to suggest that it is devoid of vapor. Quite the contrary, it is a record built from vapor. It’s just that deep amid those vapors is the formal melodic restraint of “Lichen” and the rhythmic pounding of “Shiny Metal Rods,” and even the most vaporous tracks have the inherent pulse of a sine wave’s ebb and flow. And then there is “Tree,” which is at the extreme end of sine wave as musical form, thick swells that come to form a pattern beneath slow-motion riffs from achingly crafted violin tones.
Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.