100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #40

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Vol. II

It might not be the best in the genre, but if you want an introduction of how powerful ambient music can be, look no further than ‘SAW II’, a 2-disc shop demonstration of otherworldly dreams and nightmares that colour your thoughts and moods so dramatically, it’s almost medicinal. The pieces within are subtle, simple, progressive and repetitive, but when allowed to just hang in the background (as they are meant to be heard), it probes your subconscious, digging up a catalogue of thoughts and feelings. Most feature just simple synth lines and very rarely feature any beats. Every track is untitled, or rather titled with the photographs in the CD booklet. These photos have led to some substitute titles; thank you internet. What else can you say about this record other than your own personal response? ‘Tree’ is like paralysis in the middle of a field, not daring to breathe, because you know something is stalking you; ‘Z Twig’ is like waking to the sight of the sun shining through enormous trees; ‘Tassels’ is like being locked in a house with no windows with every TV broadcasting emergency messages; but my favourite has to be the track that gave this blog its name. ‘Blue Calx’ is like one last look at a ruined earth before the last living thing leaves it forever. Pretentious, moi? Oui oui, but this is what ‘SAW II’ does to me. As I said before it’s largely only meant to be half focused on while you let your thoughts drift, but it’s so evocative. This is emotional manipulation at its finest.

Listen to: Blue Calx

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