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.
And this is a recommended reading scenario, despite the pains I go in the book to distinguish lucid dreaming from intoxication:
There’s an entire chapter in my book focused on trying to undo some of the conventional wisdom that describes this album as “beatless.” I look at tracks with intense beats, and at tracks with inherent beats (the pulse of a sine wave, by way of example). But I’m less interested in the mistaken term than in other things the idea of “beatless” might in fact mean. I won’t go into depth here (there is, of course, the book), but I think in the end it has as much if not more to do with the song-less-ness of Selected Ambient Works Volume II, a song being a structure, a meta-beat, a macro-beat — a threat to song, to pop and rock as it had previously been known and appreciated. Because if all one needed to do was to show that the album has beats, one could just play this lovely mid-tempo track that is half beat, half synth cloud, plus occasional piping of what could be an oboe. The track goes by the name “Hexagon.”
Here it is slowed down:
Here it is with someone playing a drum solo on top, emphasizing the beats that are already part of the track:
And here it is reversed:
Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.