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, dark 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 album by 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 have given each track a descriptive name based on the image representing it (such as "[rhubarb]" for track 3).[9]

The Sire/Warner Bros. Records edition changed several of the images, either by unblurring or replacing them; in the case of track 19, 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 (omitted from US CD and vinyl) 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, not on UK CD or US vinyl) 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 under "1972" and manufactured by Rhino/Atlantic Records follows the US CD, where "#4" (Hankie) is omitted from side 1.

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.

Media featuring tracks from the album[edit]

  • Tracks 5, 7, 8, 14, and 19 are heavily sampled from in the soundtrack to the Fallout video game series.
  • Track 1 was used in the film Manic.
  • Track 3 appeared as part of the BBC's digital widescreen test transmission, which was on loop for many months as the service was introduced across the UK.[10] The track was also featured on the 2007 award-winning Canadian documentary Sharkwater.
  • Track 8 was used in the closing credits of the final episode of season 3 of The Sopranos, Army of One.
  • Track 17, with the corresponding image Z Twig, was used extensively in Grand Theft Auto IV, including for the trailers and in the game itself on "The Journey" radio station.
  • Many tracks from the album are used in the comedy series Blue Jam and Jam.
  • Track 19 appears as the main theme along with Tracks 1, 4, 5, 10, 15, and 20 in the popular horror modification Afraid of Monsters for the game Half-Life.
  • Tracks 3 and 19 were used in the Flash cartoon series Salad Fingers.
  • Track 14 was used in the film "Eat Pray Love".
  • Track 15 was used in a SAAB commercial for the “cat-eye facelift”
  • Track 10 can be heard on series 3, episode 3 of "Thomas" on the British teen drama Skins.
  • Many tracks from the album appear on the documentary "Devil's Playground."
  • Track 1 appears in the documentary The Weather Underground.
  • Track 14 is sampled on the track "Mediation" by the band Oval on the album Systemisch

Personnel[edit]

Richard D. James - synthesizers, photography, production

Charts[edit]

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

References[edit]

External links[edit]