Selected Ambient Works II
by Aphex Twin
Having grown quite interested in ambient music recently, particularly work which comes directly from the unconscious - I've heard Richard D. James got the ideas for these sounds from the sounds being made in his dreams - I picked up this album, which has been languishing in my collection for about a year, and approached it with an open mind, whilst listening to Carl Jung's autobiography "Memories, Dream, Reflections," and took a trip into my own unconscious. What I find contained upon these two discs, both around 70 minutes of material, is evocative, moody and very often beautiful works, sometimes even uplifting. What Richard D. James created with this is his greatest ambient work, and also one of the greatest electronic ambient works in my mind.
Of course the common element in this (and all ambient music) is slow changing repetition, where a note series is repeated over and over, to create a droning background, on top of which more elements, of various types, depending on the composition's nature, are layered on. The most effective tracks are the most emotional, take the first track of the second disc, which is one of the most beautiful and ravishing pieces of music this listener has ever heard - in any style. There are tracks throughout each disc that stop me dead, striking me in such a close fashion to my own psyche that I am forced to stop what I am doing and soak in the atmospheres. This album is not background music like much ambient (cough Brian Eno cough) but is something to become ravished by, entranced by and enter fully into the evocative musical symbolism. This work reminds me very much of the effect of Burzum's entire catalog, Burzum's music actually re-sparked my interest in ambient music, which got me to put this in after so long.
The music is effective as it is fully of the darker realms of human minds, it reaches out to grasp ahold of something inside of you. Some people are very disturbed by this and react by talking about how boring it is. Their loss, but to me, this is the effect music must have before I fully enjoy it. Aphex Twin, or should I say, Richard D. James under the project name of Aphex Twin, is nearly always effective in this aspect. This is probably my favorite work by him, and if he had never done anything else would remain famous at least to this listener.