Selected Ambient Works (Anglais) Broché – 10 avril 2014
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Faithful to Brian Eno s definition of ambient music, Selected Ambient Works Volume II was intentionally functional: it furnished chill out rooms, the sanctuaries amid intense raves. Choreographers and film directors began to employ it to their own ends, and in the intervening decades this background music came to the fore, adapted by classical composers who reverse-engineer its fragile textures for performance on acoustic instruments. Simultaneously, 'ambient' has moved from esoteric sound art to central tenet of online culture. This book contends that despite a reputation for being beat-less, the album exudes percussive curiosity, providing a sonic metaphor for our technologically mediated era of countless synchronized nanosecond metronomes.
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To his credit, the author bases very little of the book on a phone interview he conducted with Aphex Twin the late '90s. A lazier writer would base the entire book on that conversation, but Weidenbaum is smart enough to know that it's the listener's interpretation of the record, divorced from the aritst's intent, is much more interesting to delve into. SAW2 is therefore treated like the text that ideas spring from, not a concrete piece with a singular interpretation.
Readers should be aware that Richard D. James figures very little in this book; unlike many 33 1/3 books, SAW2 is not a mini biography. Perhaps that's the way the artist, who's alternately obscured and disseminated his identity and working methods, would like it.
If I am disappointed in one thing about Weidenbaum's book, it is that he spends so much time talking about what this album is *not*, at the expense of spending more time talking about what it *is*. I would have liked to read more of a track-by-track breakdown/commentary, but as it is, the author only discusses 7 or 8 of the album's 25 pieces at length. (There is also no discussion of how the music was made, but to be fair, I did not expect that since Richard D. James is famously secretive about his methods.) I still enjoyed the book, however, as a snapshot of a period in the history of electronic music, as well as a welcome prompt to revisit a favorite album with fresh ears.
There were a lot of stories that I previously knew, but never understood the context behind them (such as the pictures corilateing with the track "names"). Mr. Weidenbaum looks at every minute detail of what makes this album truly magnificent and dissects them in a thoughtful way. Initially I was a little concerned that by reading all of the aspects that lead up to it's creation, it would somehow tarnish the magic of this album, however that is not the case with this book (If anything it augmented it!) I highly recommend to any Aphex Twin fan (any anyone who appreciates music for that matter).
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