Jump to content

Recommended Posts

when i forst bought saw2 on a whim i was very sad that there was no beats. electronic music is supposed to have a 140 bpm 909 kick at all times right?

 

nowadays i appreciate it. "stone in focus" is amazing. wasnt that on a version of saw2? not my version but still

the reccid

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 95
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I could see SAW2 being up there with the top. Riding on the praise from SAW85-92, I bet people rushed to get it. "The 2nd volume to SAW?! Oh my gosh yes!"

 

Now when they put it in...lol

 

But I would say SAW85-92, SAW2, Windowlicker and Come to Daddy are prob his top 4 selling albums. I'm sure Drukqs sold quite a bit but back then he was coasting on "Aphex Twin is God" movement, and by 2001, some of that fanfare had faded. Especially when the reviews labeled it mediocre (GRR)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest theSun

i remember watching this youtube vid of this person literally cutting themselves up with scissors and shit with blue calx as the background.

 

some old ass experimental movie or something. tried to find it but this was a few years ago.

 

creepy as fuk

Link to post
Share on other sites

i remember watching this youtube vid of this person literally cutting themselves up with scissors and shit with blue calx as the background.

 

some old ass experimental movie or something. tried to find it but this was a few years ago.

 

creepy as fuk

Begotten.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, it took a while, but I have finally finished my SAW2 review. This took days of work and hard listening, I hope you guys appreciate it.

 

To prepare for this review I listened to all 25 tracks of SAW2 in one sitting. And what an amazing experience it was, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed some tracks after not hearing them properly for a while. I'd advise it to anyone, give SAW2 your full, undivided attention.

 

This was my first album by Richard D. James. I wanted to buy it after hearing some of the tracks on the comedy series Jam, which uses a lot of good ambient music. This was in 2006, and that is how I was introduced to Aphex Twin, and IDM music in general.

 

This is easily one of the most powerful albums I have ever heard. It ranges vastly from peaceful, tranquilizing lullabies to highly disturbing recordings from the depths of hell. Here is my review of the 25 tracks, I'll be including the colours I see since I, too, have synaesthesia.

 

[cliffs]

Mood: Peaceful, relaxing.

Colours: Pink/purple and brown, with black voices.

A wonderful opener to this vast album, we are treated to a medley of strange, distorted voices. It's quite hard to describe, since they sound very real yet very different from ordinary speech. The track develops with sublime, oriental melodies. The high point of the track is when it collapses at 4:57, into a series of almost silent, perfectly tranquil tunes.

 

[radiator]

Mood: Claustrophobic, unnerving.

Colours: Strong red, with black circles and white wisps.

We're moving into spooky territory now, with the continuous plodding of an evil tune. You feel trapped. You become connected to this strange place. Half way through, everything becomes ominously still. You pause, anticipating something very frightening. This is a wonderful, vivid track.

 

[rhubarb]

Mood: Very relaxing, a feeling of loss.

Colours: Green, green/yellow, with black undertones.

This is one of the most relaxing tracks I will ever hear. A simply perfect sound is producing melodies that can send one into sheer bliss. Later in the track, if you're still awake, you hear the most beautiful harmony of two different new melodies. I cannot describe just how insanely beautiful this is. Aphex Twin is a genius.

 

[hankie]

Mood: Energetic, very scary.

Colours: Brown, white and black textures.

And now for something completely different. This is a major shift from the previous track, replacing relaxing ambient vibes with something out of a horror show. There are undertones of madness and insanity amongst the terrifying, Arabian strings. It has a very tense, overwhelming feel to it.

 

[grass]

Mood: Calm, eerie, unsettling.

Colours: Black, purple and white.

This is a lot more calm and downtempo than the previous track, like the eye in the middle of the storm. It's a different flavour of scariness, with haunting undertones and very eerie moans and cries. This is what you would hear in your head while walking down a medieval prison, feeling the sorrows and entrapment of all the prisoners as you walk by.

 

[mould]

Mood: Calm, humble.

Colours: Black smudges with a green/yellow background.

This is a very beautiful track made out of a simple melody carried by a strange, wonderful sound. Not much happens in terms of musical development, but it's very enjoyable nonetheless.

 

[ropes]

Mood: Spooky.

Colours: Red and pink, with hints of black.

This is quite a strange track. It's very relaxing and peaceful, yet it carries a sense of fear and discordance. Those eight notes hypnotise you with their repetition. And on top of that, the track is full of extra little melodies to keep things interesting. Wonderful stuff.

 

[blur]

Mood: Calm, ominous.

Colours: Light green/blue, with black beats.

I find this track to be very, very relaxing. It's not just the catchy, yet relaxing beats, but the many different things going on in the background. There are lots of subtle little melodies going on amongst the rest of the noises, it's like a recording from an alien landscape. With so much to hear, you can never get bored.

 

[weathered stone]

Mood: Playful, laid back.

Colours: Blue and light blue, with some white noises.

This track is more percussion based than many of the other tracks on SAW2. And oh, what a catchy track it is! It has a real groove to it, with layers of beats and strange noises set to a series of playful, if not slightly unnerving melodies. It's as if there's a lot of mischief going on, it has that kind of sense of humour that Richard brings to his work.

 

[tree]

Mood: Dark.

Colours: Black with vague hints of white.

It was only recently when I realized how much I loved this track. It manages to do two quite different things very well: send you into a state of pure relaxation, and haunt you with feelings of fear and anxiety. Not many musicians can do this. As the track progresses, the feelings become more and more deeply entwined with you, as noises from the very depths of darkness engulf your soul. You feel childlike fear as you have never known it before, while at the same time feeling too relaxed to do anything about it. You can only continue, and hope that the light will come soon.

 

[domino]

Mood: Playful, lightly spooky.

Colours: Pink, red and white.

Throughout this track, a complex melody endlessly repeats itself. It bounces up and down with a cheeky grin on its face, taking you through a riveting journey that moves through some strange places. It carries a hypnotic feeling of mystery. I had an experience with this track when I left my CD player on while I was asleep, and when this track came on, I remember hearing it in my dream and thinking that it was a very annoying melody, and I wanted it to end. Strange, because I've never really thought this is real life.

 

[white blur 1]

Mood: Eerie.

Colours: Golden yellow twinkles.

This track sounds like it's taken right out of a lucid dream. And the really spooky thing about it is that he seems to have reproduced it perfectly in his studio, a testament to the true talent of Richard D. James. It reminds me of the moments in the restored version of the 1937 film Lost Horizon where the footage couldn't be found and the visuals are replaced with seemingly random images, giving a jarring, unsettling effect.

 

Blue Calx

Mood: Tranquil.

Colours: Blue with white circles.

Ah, Blue Calx. Easily one of the most relaxing, most beautiful tracks on the album. A simple rhythm is put in place to help you keep track of the time. The most exquisite noise you could imagine, like a light, watery explosion, is repeated four times over and over. The second repetition is accompanied by another, even more exquisite noise. And with ambient vibes taking you to higher and higher places of relaxation, it all adds up to one of Richard D. James' greatest tracks.

 

[parallel stripes]

Mood: Ecstacy.

Colours: Grainy, fuzzy pink and white.

Unlike [rhubarb], which seems to get all the love it deserves, I find that this track is severely underrated. It's definitely up there with [rhubarb], Blue Calx and [stone in focus] as a champion of relaxing ambient music. That gentle analogue hum is simply heavenly. All the way through the track, I feel the essence of pure bliss as I float through an alien landscape with a chorus of harmonic singing.

 

[shiny metal rods]

Mood: Upbeat, energetic.

Colours: Orange and yellow shapes, like tangled wires and bars.

One of the more upbeat tracks on SAW2, this track has some real groove. There's electricity in the atmosphere here, it has the power of a tropical rainstorm, and it combines it with a mash of tingling, sparky beats. To be honest, I don't listen to it very often, but when I rediscover it, I don't regret it.

 

[grey stripe]

Mood: Eerie, desolate.

Colours: Grey background, white shapes ranging from rough to smooth.

Wow. Either this is a direct live recording of an alien planet, or it's a perfect recreation of the noises in one of Richard's lucid dreams. This is a really great exhibition of surreal noises, from eerie breezes, to marine life wailing, to the violent hisses of one of nature's mistakes. The ending is amazing, displaying an analogue synth strobing and detuning into hell.

 

[z twig]

Mood: Happy, mellow.

Colours: Smooth golden yellow circles.

Who could possibly say anything bad about this track? Absolute perfection. This really shows Richard's talent for crafting the happiest, most wonderful melodies known to man. Every little note is simply beautiful, and the fact that, somehow, they are building up into this amazing work of art just blows me away every time.

 

[windowsill]

Mood: Tribal, menacing.

Colours: Dark red with black undertones.

When I first got this album, this track was an early favourite. I don't know, I guess I just loved the tribal atmosphere it gives off, the main melody proves to be very effective for something so simple. From the very beginning, a sense of panic and anxiety touch your soul. You are dragged into a world of danger as all the drums of the jungle dance around you. There are some really catchy beats in there, and it all adds up to a great track, even if it isn't strictly ambient.

 

[stone in focus]

Mood: Dark, tranquil.

Colours: Grainy black.

And now for one of the most beautiful, relaxing and simple tracks ever created. This track is built almost entirely on three notes (High C, #C, #A) repeating over and over, with some gentle tapping in the far background. Somehow, the result of this track is vastly greater than the sum of its minimalist parts. Every note takes my breath away. It's hypnotic. It's relaxing. It's disturbing. It's beautiful. It's the perfect track to play on a loop and fall asleep to. This track is the king of ambience.

 

[hexagon]

Mood: Everything is OK.

Colours: An orange background with golden shines here and there.

I adore this track. It's like lying down at a beach, watching vibrant, alien skies and getting warmed up by a burning, alien sun. It's full of exquisite melodies, and each one is an important part of this masterpiece of relaxation. Every second fills me with content, and as I listen to this for six minutes, all my troubles seem to disappear. Simply wonderful.

 

[lichen]

Mood: Deeply sad.

Colours: White balms.

Originally, I didn't like this track very much. Not that I ever considered it to be poorly made, or ineffective. It does its job very well, but that's precisely it. I've always found [lichen] to feel incredibly sad, to the point where it just feels like too much. I remember back in 2006 when I had depression, and I found that listening to tracks like [cliffs] and [rhubarb] helped a little. So, one day, I listened to [lichen]. Big mistake. The sheer melancholy of this track amplified my sadness, and I broke down in tears. It's one of the very few tracks that has ever managed to make me cry. But this is exactly what makes this track truly great. Music is supposed to make you feel, not just feel good, and this track certainly makes me feel.

 

[spots]

Mood: Eerie, claustrophobic.

Colours: Black smoke.

I consider this to be one of the lesser tracks on SAW2. But that's not to say it's not a great track. It feels very atmospheric, as if there are a lot of gases and substances in the air. You can just make out creepy voices edging their way into the track from each direction. It all adds up to a well-produced feeling of claustrophobia. But still, it can feel slightly dry at times, and there aren't many changes overall. Perhaps the album would improve if this track was replaced with the compilation track "Analogue Bubblebath 3", which basically achieves the same effect but in a better way.

 

[tassels]

Mood: A panic attack.

Colours: Clouds of circles in different shades of yellow.

This track is simply marvelous. A very effective feeling of claustrophobia is produced by the squashy, distorted dissolving of a delicious analogue synth. The sound is haunting, even disturbing, but at the same time it manages to relax you, and hypnotise you in typical SAW2 fashion. There are moments when another synth appears on top, and it feels like the track is literally scorching, getting really hot. Basically, the atmosphere is amazing.

 

[white blur 2]

Mood: Drowsy, spaced out.

Colours: Black background with smooth, orange and yellow shapes.

You know, I think this track is very underrated. It's a challenging track, with its sheer length and repetition, but it can be very rewarding once you get into it. This track strongly feels like sleep deprivation. Like if you stay awake for a long amount of time, you feel all woozy and drowsy. Your perception of reality begins to change shape. This is the perfect track to accompany this state of mind, and I've used it to great effect.

 

[matchsticks]

Mood: Grand, expansive.

Colours: A blur of light blue and white.

As the album draws to a close, we are left with an epic finale. It starts off simple enough, with ominous taps and strings to set the mood. Over time, these strings build a tense atmosphere, revealing a new, secret alien world. You see hot, sandy deserts, skies of strange colours, and great, expansive monuments. The track has an eastern feel to it. It climbs higher and higher, with a feeling of importance, of grandeur. The track, and the album, ends rather suddenly, with the remains of the ambient vibe quietly fading out.

 

So ends one of the greatest, strangest, most moving journeys one could possibly undertake in the field of music. I hope you have enjoyed reading my review. Now all that's left is the rather challenging task of rating the 25 tracks in order, from best to worst:

 

[rhubarb]

Blue Calx

[parallel stripes]

[lichen]

[hexagon]

[cliffs]

[stone in focus]

[z twig]

[grass]

[white blur 2]

[tree]

[hankie]

[ropes]

[blur]

[windowsill]

[radiator]

[matchsticks]

[tassels]

[weathered stone]

[domino]

[grey stripe]

[mould]

[shiny metal rods]

[white blur 1]

[spots]

Link to post
Share on other sites

lichen - this caps off the aforementioned string of songs in a perfect way. rhombix thinks of this track as very sad, but I think it's the opposite. it's like you're crying because it's so beautiful and warm. it's very emotional, maybe the most emotional track here next to rhubarb. it's like the kind of song that you'd hear as the sun rises in the forest and all the birds are chirping. a lot of this album goes beyond words, but I feel like this one does especially.

 

I find it very interesting that people can see happiness in this track. I've never heard of such polar ambiguity in any work of music. It's certainly very powerful, and tear inducing, but in which direction? Just what are the factors that decide whether this track gives tears of joy or tears of sadness?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Rabid

Lichen sounds distinctly positive to me. But I can hear a tint of melancholy in it if I try, which is interesting. The possible moods I hear in it are wistful, hopeful, nostalgic, accepting, and then that hint of melancholy.

Edited by Rabid
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Calx Sherbet

lichen - this caps off the aforementioned string of songs in a perfect way. rhombix thinks of this track as very sad, but I think it's the opposite. it's like you're crying because it's so beautiful and warm. it's very emotional, maybe the most emotional track here next to rhubarb. it's like the kind of song that you'd hear as the sun rises in the forest and all the birds are chirping. a lot of this album goes beyond words, but I feel like this one does especially.

 

I find it very interesting that people can see happiness in this track. I've never heard of such polar ambiguity in any work of music. It's certainly very powerful, and tear inducing, but in which direction? Just what are the factors that decide whether this track gives tears of joy or tears of sadness?

 

 

i would definitely say tears of happiness, in a hopeful "good things to come" way. it's so innocent sounding, like a flower blossoming in the sunshine

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lichen gives me two "scenes".

 

1 : of a ball of energy rising from the ocean

 

2: of a man falling from grace , like he had everything ,and at the peak of his life , he dies (and is falling through a hole that leads to nothing)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest theSun

i remember watching this youtube vid of this person literally cutting themselves up with scissors and shit with blue calx as the background.

 

some old ass experimental movie or something. tried to find it but this was a few years ago.

 

creepy as fuk

Begotten.

 

thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Dodeccaheedron

Selected Ambient Works Vol. II is definitely in my personal Top 5 albums of all time, and what deeply drew me into Aphex Twin's work. Before listening to this album I was just a casual listener of his. It's a shame that this album doesn't have a much larger following, it's definitely one of the most unappreciated and underrated albums of the 90's.

 

If I were ever asked to choose one album that could covey every human emotion flawlessly, it would be this one. Granted, there's nothing on this album that's going to make you get up and shake your ass, but the basic core to every emotions is here. (Happiness, sadness, fear, tranquility, nostalgia, etc.) The lack of lyrics and sparse use of percussion enhance those emotions considerably. Raw feelings can be rationalized by words, but those words can't invoke those feelings like this music can. Not even close. This album takes the process of identifying those feelings by taking language out of the equation leaving the listener with an immediate sense of connection and anticipation. And the truly remarkable part is that the music itself is so simplistic and minimal, yet so powerful that it's beyond words. (No pun intended.)

 

Obviously just an opinion, but this is by far his most provocative and accomplished work of his career. I truly believe that no matter what he puts out (and I hope he continues to release music for many years to come!) that he will never be able to replicate this kind of experience ever again with the same freshness and originality of this particular album. In a way I almost hope that he never tries to do it, as I think it would fall short.

 

I don't think I can pick an overall favorite song from this album. It's one of pieces that I listen to as a whole, although I do jump around the tracks from time to time. It just depends on what mood I'm trying to match. I consider this album to be the soundtrack of my life in that I can identify every important event or memory to the pieces found in it. I can't say enough good things about it, and if I didn't think it would irritate Richard to hell I'd love to shake his hand and thank him for creating such a fantastic piece of art that has inspired me considerably and did so much for me. I really do cherish this album.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

I am surprised WATMM hasn't had a "remix SAWII" contest or collaboration to do one

a la "deep sea creatures" "antarctica" "black holes" "Metropolis" etc

 

I know it is considered a near "perfect" album by most people here and maybe messing with it is sacrilegious?

 

But

Radiator already got a beated mix (the orginal) from RDJ himself (does that make Radiator on SAWII "the remix"?

Wisp did 4 remixes (didn't he get signed to Rephlex partially due to these?)

We got orchestral versions of many of them,

 

I would love to hear what everyone here would do with these tracks...

 

just sayin'...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to hear what everyone here would do with these tracks...

 

I wrote Ggantija Phase to try to emulate the feel of [Rhubarb], the same way I suspect Aphex Twin wrote [Lichen] to emulate the feel of Brian Eno's Discreet Music. It's not really a remix though, so much as a ripoff. :) Does that count?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do any of you wish you hadn't been subjected to the song titles. I tried going to untitled tracks for a while, but it ended up frustrating, and I ended up just trying to think of their "titles" anyways. But if they were meant to be untitled tracks, I sort of wish that I'd never known the titles, and that I could synthesize my own titles from experience with the track - I could still use the given images as a starting point, but maybe my titles wouldn't be as literal

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ansgaria

Radiator already got a beated mix (the orginal) from RDJ himself (does that make Radiator on SAWII "the remix"?

Wisp did 4 remixes (didn't he get signed to Rephlex partially due to these?)

We got orchestral versions of many of them,

 

 

I wouldn't mind him remixing the whole album. His mix of 'Rhubarb' is to die for, absolutely stunning.

Edited by Hasselbalch
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest cuntainer

track 3 or rhubarb or what ever... one of the most amazing songs i've ever heard.

 

the 1000th listen is just as magical as the 1st.

 

 

love.

 

 

saw2 is for sure my fav aphex release.

Link to post
Share on other sites

With all the ambient albums I've heard, this still remains one of the most powerful ambient albums I've ever heard. "Tassels" was the very first Aphex Twin track I ever heard, and the rest of the album soon followed. I was immediately floored by how evocative something so minimal could be (it was one of the first ambient tracks I'd heard also.) The "lighter" tracks are beautiful and the darker more haunting tracks can be truly frightening in the right settings. I still find many of the darker ones to be some of the most unsettling ambient out there, this from someone who enjoys Lustmord as well. I've always been fascinated by the fact Richard says he heard many of these sounds in dreams, if there is truth to that and not just another of his sayings, I'd love to see what his nightmares look like.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 years later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...