Posted by Play.com Reviewer, 31/01/2008 00:16:52
What can one say about Richard D. James? Since his appearance on the music scene he has simulatneously avoided being pingeon holed and influenced a generation or two of new musicians. Many will know (and I'm sure love) his harder and better known works such as Window Licker, Come to Daddy, maybe Didgeridoo even. But there is a flip to this distortion heavy, beat smashing sonic assault, and it is startling to anyone who has never heard it before. For you see, Richard D. James is capable of some of the most beautiful ambient music you could imagine.
When one hears works of his such as Donkey Rhubarb or Avril 14th or the stunningly beautiful Nannou, it's true that there is always the hint of a softer, gentler, more sedate side of the Twin. Yet I feel that Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 is more soft gentle and sedate than you would expect.
It will come as no surprise to an Aphex fan that this album if full of simple yet stunning melodies, we hear these often enough evading hugely filtered and processed drums in some of the harder works. What makes this album so different is that there are barely ever drums present to evade here, and when they do appear they are, more often than not, calm. Of note is that of 22 tracks only four contain drums.
So if not drums what? One of the true delights in this album is the variety; relaxing sounds scapes, melodic pieces of music, eerie plains of sound, experimental pieces. Each of the 22 tracks has something different to say, and no two sound so alike as to allow confusion. Pieces are made up from samples such as wind chimes, voices and nature (the wind I think...), and from synth sounds. Musically the pieces are very minimal and carry one single fragement of melody or one little musical idea as far as is possible before allowing it to grow organically into something new. Often, Richard uses layering techniques to add something subtlely to the mix, or to help move the piece along a little. Track times range from two minutes to 11 and a half, and overall the album clocks in at 2 hours 31 minutes and 51 seconds; mind you, listen to it in one sitting and you won't realise more than 5 minutes went by.
This is by far one of my favourite albums of all time, and definately my favourite Aphex Twin album to date; the subtlety, the minimal development, the patience he has with the music in letting it grow on its own, the bravery in taking such small ideas and sticking with them for such lengths of time, the overall beauty of the sounds he uses, this album has absolutely everything I could ask for.
For those looking for a more traditional Aphex offering, I would emplore you to buy this to see the lighter side of the Twin and maybe understand and appreciate more how talented a musician James is. For those willing to try something new, there cannot be a better place to start in the ambient music world than this album.
Note: This Review was made by Play.com customer: ChrisPovall on Rakuten’s Play.com on the date shown.