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And here we are. Probably the deepest album this side of Drukqs Richard has ever put out. Listen closely to this one, it'll surprise you every time.

 

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Edited by bubbhasdance
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Music from another dimension.

 

Hard to get into at first but worth the effort. One of the most unique albums ever made, you just need to rewire your brain to get into it.

 

My only critisism of it is that the tracks swing violently between moods. One minute you are peacefuly drifting along with the clouds the next you are getting your internal organs surgicaly removed by aliens, the next you are trapped in a whiteout on the side of a mountain freezing to death, the next track you are being born. Perhaps that adds to its enigmatic aura?

 

Obviously 5 big fat gold stars.

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When I was home from "Uni" back in the day, I was staying at my family's house and shared a room with my little sister. She used to complain when I'd play SAW2 to fall asleep to at night because she said it was scary. lol!

 

It's a gorgeous album front to back, and I can't imagine ever getting tired of it.

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my favourite album of all time. will do a more in dept review later in the week

 

 

You could spend months not days thinking about reviewing this album MGF. You could also write a book about it to lol.

 

If I ever met Richard this is the album and music I would ask him about the most. Though I bet he would proberbly shrug and not say much.

 

Like Eno, in 20 years time the BBC will be making documentries about this. Lets hope by then Aphex is willing to be more open and talk about it.

Edited by beerwolf
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When I was home from "Uni" back in the day, I was staying at my family's house and shared a room with my little sister. She used to complain when I'd play SAW2 to fall asleep to at night because she said it was scary. lol!

 

It's a gorgeous album front to back, and I can't imagine ever getting tired of it.

Some tracks are slightly unsettling though, not all of it is relaxing/calming, just a select few tbh...

 

I wouldn't call it a chillout album as there are some strong moments that are certainly as harrowing as they are beautiful.

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Even if you can chill out to the spooky stuff, the bass in Grass is sure to cause a jolt if you're trying to go to sleep.

 

I like this album quite a bit, though I sort of get the feeling that RDJ made most of it by just taking some tracks, stripping the beats out, & adding in a bunch of digital reverb. Doesn't really make me like it less. If anything, it makes me want to get a reverb machine from the 80s...

 

edit- which isn't to say that owning a good reverb unit is all one needs to make SAWII. The vast quantity of bad ambient music with good reverb attests to that.

Edited by Cryptowen
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Guest Rabid

 

SAW2 announces itself with the tensive “1:1,“ one of the most alien sounding pieces on the album. This piece is well representative of SAW2’s core elements: phasing, minimalism, repetition, and the manipulation of sampled human voice. Interestingly, all

of these elements can be heard in Steve Reich’s 1980 piece “Come Out” which is over ten minutes of sampled and re-sampled speech. The focal instrument in “1:1” is a sampled or synthesized alto voice. This presumably female voice neither sings nor speaks words; the spoken syllable “dät” is played and replayed via cyclic phasing. James’s mode of phasing on SAW2 is different from Reich’s: it is conceivably flawless because it is the result of a combination of electronic delay and reverberation that can be applied to any instrument run through certain software. Throughout “1:1“ the voice is put through what a decade or two earlier would have been referred to as “tape effects;“ the syllable is cut into segments, its pitch is shifted up and down, the duration of its echo is shortened and lengthened, and it gradually moves in and out of phase with its own rhythm. From the beginning, the voice sounds far from human, like the vocalists in “Segment II.”

 

The voice is backed by what is termed in electronic music “synth washes:” whole note or longer atonal drone synthesizer notes. The chords are dissonant so it is difficult to decipher exactly what notes are being played. About two minutes into the piece, a synthesized muted piano enters, going through its own phasing for the remainder of the track. It is the same few notes played every few seconds, until the synth washes disappear for a brief moment and the melody descends. The voice disappears in the closing two minutes, and the synth washes disappear and reappear, granting solos to the reverb- and delay-soaked muted piano. This is akin to the constantly emerging and disappearing instruments in the Reich piece. The style of “1:1” is repeated on “1:10” and “2:5” on SAW2.

 

In “1:2” the synthesizer notes resonate in each ear, like the back and forth stereo effects found in Music for 18 Musicians. Two synthesizers with different timbres fight against each other four minutes into the piece. Each synthesizer is in its own key and time signature. Each instrument has its own phasing effects. It battles both itself and each other, sending the listener into a dizzying frenzy. There is no third instrument. The melody is “plunk-de-plunk” repeated with delay effects several times. This is more repetitive than most pieces on SAW2, though it does morph at one point into another idea for roughly a minute. “1:2” is one of the most maddening pieces on this collection.

 

The next piece, “1:3,” is the most inward and tender track on the album. This elegy is relentlessly melancholic, in adagio. The murky, woodwind-sounding bass line plays the same three ascending quarter-quarter-half and three descending quarter-quarter-whole notes throughout the piece. Each note sounds like it took gut retching effort to execute, like the words of a dying man. In the descending half of the phrase, the closing note resolves beautifully to the tonic in an emphasized authentic cadence. This repetition holds a static, heartbreaking rhythm for the other parts to play over.

 

The second voice to appear is the treble synthesizer. A computer reverb effect adds a melancholy echo to the melody it plays. The phrase is the melody of the first voice at a much higher pitch and with more distortion. Soon a cello-sounding part backs up the first synthesizer on the same phase. This collusion of instruments plods along for three minutes before being joined by a fourth, mid-range synthesizer after the listener has been lulled into a depressed state. The melodic phrase it plays is seemingly a half step higher, though it is difficult to decipher while mesmerized. While it does repeat the same phrase as the other instruments, its structure develops through the pitch of its notes, which continue to rise as the piece goes on. A fifth synthesizer briefly appears, also to perform high notes. All synthesizers are thickly coated with distortion and reverb effects that emphasize the gloomy mood. Though all tracks on SAW2 are stark, this is one of the few homophonic ambient pieces James chose to include on the album.

 

“1:6” bares the most melodic similarity to the eleven chords repeated throughout Music For 18 Musicians. The melodic intervals played on the first keyboard to appear in the piece are 1-3-1-3, 2-3-1, with D most likely the tonic. The melody is made up of eighth notes except for the tonal center: the fourth note is the tonic accent, an octave above the other third intervals. The final note in the melodic phrase is the tonic. The maddening timbre of this instrument is a highly distorted, reverberating wood piano, a cousin to the four real pianos used in the Reich piece.

 

In context with the rest “1:6,” the aforementioned melody is a simple but relentless loop that plays throughout the piece, and though the part is loud, it is there to provide sonic texturing for the other instruments. The unstopping melody is used to a near identical effect as the main theme repeated throughout Music for 18 Musicians. In addition, the synthesizer’s deranged reiteration and one-second-delay phasing set a hypnotic mood. Forty seconds into this eight and a half minute piece, a quiet, almost unnoticeable dissonant keyboard, roughly a half pitch step below the looped rhythm, plays dynamic, improvised backing melodies, as if to prove that this track is not as mindless and inhuman as it seems on the first listen. When given its due focus, it is conceivable to get lost in this piece for hours. A minute and a half into the piece, the most sonically interesting element is heard. Over the rolling rhythm of the original keyboard, a synthesized piano plays five ascending chords, takes a whole note rest, and then descends in pitch to play its tonic, followed by a non-harmonic suspension chord. This instrument disappears after playing for a minute or so, and returns nearly a minute later to play different notes. The new notes are more improvisational and the instrument takes a different time signature. Not wanting to bore the listener, it has a new job: spicing up the piece with unexpected configurations of notes. At the five-minute mark, it returns to its original melody for forty seconds. For thirty seconds it plays whole notes before returning again to the original melody. For the rest of the piece, the notes are played with a ringing staccato.

 

James’s implementation of subtle percussive noises in “1:6” is fascinating. Forty seconds into “1:6,“ muted sixteenth notes from a computerized bass drum hit like soft mallets in the left ear. They accent the final two notes of the looping melodic phrase for about twenty seconds before disappearing, only to reappear at random intervals in the piece. After a minute of delay-, reverb-, and distortion-saturated keyboard riffs, quick buzzes of electronic static are heard in the distant background. Their function is to emphasize certain notes in the melody. Another subtle percussive instrument makes an impression on “1:6:” sequenced DAT tape glitches skip to and fro quietly in the background for about thirty seconds before disappearing. They reemerge a minute later with the ascending-descending piano riff. The rest of the piece features more random near-silent percussive noises of the static or glitch variety.

 

To further analyze James’s use of percussion, one must look no further than “1:8.” James employs both polyphonic and polyrhythmic textures in this childlike piece. As heard in dozens of James’s works on this and other albums, childhood is an important musical theme. James likes to clash joyous melodies played on synthesizers with menacing percussion and sound effects. This is the case with “1:8.” The first ten seconds are a menacing tribal rhythm underscored by sinister, stereophonic synth washes. Then the washes totally disappear and the beat becomes compliment to a lyrical synthesizer, the treble. This instrument plays a quick, happy flute melody while an organ, the bass, plays a rolling countermelody. The delightful mood begins to wane a minute into the piece when a new percussive instrument enters the fray. This part sounds like a computer-processed sample of the clanking made by metal chain links. The mood is totally ruined when at 1:8 the sinister synth washes return like an evil clown to a circus. The remainder of the piece is a quadruple meter battle between the tribal drums, the chain links, the bass, and the treble. At 2:17 another keyboard briefly emerges with a quiet, building melody, and the treble plays 2-1-2, 2-1-2, 2-2-1, 2-1-2 intervals. The chain links seem the easiest to focus on in an effort to determine the time signature, but the polyrhythmic nature of the piece and the phasing of the links make this job impossible. What can be assessed is that the first beat of each measure played by the chain links is accented, as if to mock the listener trying to count the beat.

 

As stated previously, disc two of SAW2 is less cohesive and bears fewer similarities to Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. “2:11,” for instance, is just a grating exercise in pitch blending that the composer intended as more of a joke than an interlude. This is clinched by the different samples of human laughter that appear throughout the track, seldom without their pitch, duration, and basic sonic structure intact. For these discrepancies, and because of concepts already discussed, fewer pieces on this half of the album will be analyzed.

 

“2:6” has a Middle Eastern sound to it. The keyboard mimics a mesmerizing snake charmer’s flute. Phasing in this piece makes melodic analysis more difficult than in any other, but its intervals make the piece sound like it is written in melodic minor key. This track features a synthesized ensemble of flute, marimba, timpani, and tambourine, all of which are phased roughly a dozen times through echo and reverberation. This is easily the most hypnotic moment of SAW2. It is impossible to determine what the originating melodies and rhythms are because of the intense phasing: the original performance disappears at some point after the first two echoing phases have come over top of it. This is even more extreme than Reich’s “Section V” where the pianos work to execute a single phrase.

 

“2:8” is a weighty piece similar to “1:3.” This piece, however, develops more. The instrumentation keeps a constant melancholic, lulling mood, but the listener is this time taken on a trip through the music, rather than induced into a stupor. All instruments on this track sound very murky; it is difficult to discern the foreground from the background. There is no percussion. The atonal backing instruments emulate clarinets and indistinct strings. The depressing focal melody is played on some muddling of different instruments that mimic no real instruments yet sound fully organic. The main phrase played by this instrument is a lovely and difficult sounding ascension of notes beginning with E-B-G. This piece is achingly beautiful in its low pitched instrumental timbre and elegiac chord progression. It sounds post-apocalyptic.

 

“2:12” sonically parallels “Section VI” and “Section VIII” on Music for 18 Musicians with its rapid muted drums. In the Reich piece, a xylophone signals cues for the slight changes in melody and structure. The phasing-induced, near-silent programmed percussion line accompanies and accents the beginning of each sinister whole note performed by James’s computerized orchestra. Within three minutes of “2:12,” the piece enters a state of cacophony that never once occurs in the mathematically perfected chaos of Music for 18 Musicians. SAW2 ends abruptly when the drums and half of the faux orchestra drop out, followed by the rest of the instruments, without returning to the tonic. An eccentric ending to an eccentric musical work. Music for 18 Musicians’s closing “Pulses II” is at least given a moment of interplay between just the xylophone and piano followed by a fade out effect. Does this make Reich more of a musician or James more of an artist?

 

This comparative analysis only begins to reveal the brilliant underlying minutiae of so-called minimalist music. Each of these works deserves patience and attention in order before comprehension of their genius is awarded to the listener. Selected Ambient Works Volume II and Music for 18 Musicians are deceptively configured, but with the right approach this becomes not a hindrance but a virtue.

 

http://howisya.tripod.com/saw2vsreich.html

 

 

Edited by Rabid
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SAWII is a tea biscuit that's just been dunked for the perfect amount of time

that split second when everything is simultaneously soggy and crunchy and sweet and bitter and watery and buttery and grainy and moist

 

 

"quite good"

 

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I listening to SAWII right now and just all the tracks are so remarkable.. It's like the sounds bounces in your head and want you to touch the sounds like "Curtains" for instance.

After I have finished the album Iam going to listening to it again while I'm sleeping. God I wish I had the vinyls.

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Guest Calx Sherbet

i'm pretty sure rhubarb was one of the first ten or so songs i ever heard by Rich. and it was really one of my first experiences with full-on ambient music. i understood the genre in a heartbeat

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i did the whole album at once, ONE time. i had to go to bed afterwards. i mean that in a good way, it was just draining as hell

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in my dorm room alone right now, this album is giving me feelings of dread and loneliness....god I love it

 

MY 1000TH POST IS IN A SAW2 THREAD

Edited by bubbhasdance
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Guest Calx Sherbet

there is some live recording where Rich transitioned from matchsticks to COME ON YOU SLAGS. or it mighta been the other way around

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