Selected Ambient Works Volume II

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Selected Ambient Works Volume II
Studio album by Aphex Twin
Released March 8, 1994
April 12, 1994 (US)
Genre Ambient
Length 156:32 (UK CD/digital)
151:58 (U.S. CD)
166:40 (vinyl/cassette)
Label Warp
WARP21 (EU)
Sire/Warner Bros. Records
45482 (rest of world)
Producer Richard D. James
Aphex Twin chronology
On
(1993)
Selected Ambient Works Volume II
(1994)
Classics
(1994)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B−[2]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars [3]
Spin 8/10 stars [4]
adriandenning.co.uk 9/10 stars [5]

Selected Ambient Works Volume II, abbreviated as SAW2, is the second studio album by English electronic musician Richard D. James under the alias Aphex Twin, released in 1994. It is the follow-up to 1992's Selected Ambient Works 85–92. The album peaked at #11 on the UK Albums Chart. It was number 62 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s".[6]

Overview[edit]

Volume II differs significantly from the first volume in the series, in that it consists of lengthy, textured ambient compositions with minimal percussion and occasional vocal samples, in a vein similar to Brian Eno's ambient works. James described the album as being "like standing in a power station on acid"[7] and went on to note that the sounds on record were inspired by lucid dreams, and that upon awaking, he would attempt to re-create the sounds and record them. He claimed to have natural synaesthesia, which contributed to this album.[7]

Artwork and formats[edit]

The album proper consists of 25 tracks, all of which are officially untitled except for "Blue Calx". The liner notes present a series of images to represent the title of each track, including a blue emblem for "Blue Calx". Colour-coded pie charts are also included to show which tracks belonged to which side of vinyl, as well as approximations of the duration of each track per side (for example, the colour of the first side is mustard). Officially, each track is untitled but numbered after its respective running order number, i.e. "SAW2 Untitled Track 3",[8] but fans Greg Eden and Alan Michael Parry have given each track a descriptive name based on the image representing it (such as "[rhubarb]" for track 3).[9] These descriptive names were e-mailed to the IDM mailing list, and subsequently entered into the CDDB, further popularizing them.

The Sire/Warner Bros. Records edition changed several of the images, either by unblurring or replacing them; in the case of track 19, which is absent from the US pressing, a blank square was left instead. The original images were also cropped and presented differently for the cassette pressing; several are rotated, while others show more of the original image.

Due to the limitations of the compact disc format, track 19 was removed from all CD pressings. This omission has since become standard, even for online retailers. The track was later included on the Astralwerks/Caroline/Virgin/EMI Records compilation Excursions in Ambience: The Third Dimension, titled "#19". The original Sire/Warner Bros. Records version also removed track four from the first disc. The vinyl edition came in two editions: a standard black vinyl pressing with full-colour artwork and a limited edition brown vinyl pressing with monochromatic photography (which has now become more common than the black vinyl pressing).

The photography is credited to Richard D. James, handwritten on an image that appears on a separate sheet of paper, which was included with many versions of the album.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Richard D. James

Compact disc one, vinyl sides one to three, and cassette sides one and two
No. Title Corresponding image Length
1. Untitled   Cliffs 7:27
2. Untitled   Radiator 6:34
3. Untitled   Rhubarb 7:44
4. Untitled (UK vinyl, CD and cassette pressings only) Hankie 4:34
5. Untitled   Grass 8:55
6. Untitled   Mould 3:31
7. Untitled   Curtains 8:51
8. Untitled   Blur 5:08
9. Untitled   Weathered Stone 6:54
10. Untitled   Tree 9:58
11. Untitled   Domino 7:18
12. Untitled   White Blur 1 2:38
Total length:
Warp CD, Warp vinyl, cassette: 79:32
Sire CD, Rhino vinyl: 74:58
Compact disc two, vinyl sides four to six, and cassette sides three and four
No. Title Corresponding image Length
13. "Blue Calx"     7:20
14. Untitled   Parallel Stripes 8:00
15. Untitled   Shiny Metal Rods 5:34
16. Untitled   Grey Stripe 4:45
17. Untitled   Z Twig 2:05
18. Untitled   Window Sill 7:17
19. Untitled (UK vinyl and cassette versions only) Stone In Focus 10:07
20. Untitled   Hexagon 5:57
21. Untitled   Lichen 4:15
22. Untitled   Spots 7:09
23. Untitled   Tassels 7:30
24. Untitled   White Blur 2 11:27
25. Untitled   Match Sticks 5:41
Total length:
CDs, Rhino vinyl: 77:00
Cassettes, Warp vinyl: 87:08

Formatting notes[edit]

The cassette version of the album featured six songs on each side, barring side three, which contained seven (tracks 13–19). The vinyl version featured four songs on each side, excluding side four, which contained five (tracks 13–17). The 2012 vinyl re-release in the US, manufactured by Rhino/Atlantic Records, follows the US CD, where "#4" (Hankie) is omitted from side one and "#19" (Stone in Focus) from side five; this version features four songs per side, except for sides one and five (tracks 1-3 and 17-18 & 20, respectively); and side four, which retained its five tracks (13-17). The digital format of the album features all songs except for "#19" (Stone in Focus), leaving it exclusively on the UK vinyl and cassette pressings of the album.

Remixes and covers[edit]

  • Track 2 was later released on the compilation album 26 Mixes for Cash in a version with beats, titled "SAW2 CD1 TRK2 (Original Mix)". It was originally recorded for Richard's Peel Session in 1995.
  • Track 7 was jointly remixed with LFO's track "Simon from Sydney" by Pram on the compilation Warp 10+3 Remixes. Track 1 was also remixed for this collection by Four Tet.
  • Cover versions of "Blue Calx" and track 1, played on acoustic instruments by the Western classical new-music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, appeared on its album Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin in 2005.
  • New York electronica artist Wisp remixed four tracks from this album on his 2004 EP, SAW 2 Reworked, and has since released music on Rephlex Records, a record label co-owned by Richard D. James.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 11[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]