Aphex Twin is a legend of Electronic music. His first major release, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, was a masterpiece in developing an original Electronic sound and was loved by both critics and fans alike. Naturally, there had to be a successor to that legendary album, and thus this volume two was born. Aphex Twin is a genius of postmodern Electronic music. This album was a project that was a long time coming and is another addition to Richard D. James’s existing back catalogue of original and authentic Electronic music. The man behind Aphex Twin, Richard D. James claimed he composed the album after hearing melodies in his lucid dreams, which is odd. Still, without any further delay, let’s explore this album and hear where the musical journey takes us.
#1 begins with some discordant and melancholy sounding ambient washes. This is quite good, better than you’d think. There are also some delayed processed vocals in this piece, which is different. These vocals eventually come front and centre, and just sound really great. A good and interesting piece of music, this eventually has some wah-wah sounds enter, which is very unusual for this sort of music. This is really quirky and different, although the average listener may be put off by the length here so far, which is a flaw of this piece. As we approach the middle, the music gets more hypnotic and simple in its approach, as the vocals are phased out. Simplicity is the word at this point. This section continues on nicely for some time, and the whole tune is good. The vocals return to a much higher level in the mix, and these vocals have no words to them. In the second half is some gorgeous and wonderful sounds that are out of this world. This is great music, although it is not to everyone’s tastes. The wah-wah sounds and other sounds are very decent, with eventually the former just being played on this piece alone. Nonetheless, a really brilliant tune that is quite magical. This section repeats the wah-wah parts, before concluding with silence.
#2 begins with some weird ambient melodies that are again discordant. This tune proceeds well, as these singular sounds come front and centre in the mix. The music present is minimalist city and requires some patience to get through. Still, this has a large number of musical changes here, especially as a second melody is added here for dramatic effect. A good listen throughout. Some other interesting pseudo-percussion sounds then enter, and this piece sounds very weird and different. Towards the middle of this tune, the melodic set changes to some even weirder sounding. This is very unusual and discordant, once again. Soon afterwards, the main melodies resume from the first part of the track. The music here is decent, although very strange sounding overall. It does sound very warm overall texturally, so to speak. A really great listening experience regardless that doesn’t sound dull or boring throughout. Towards the end, the melodies are phased out for the most part, swirling in and out of each other. Another great tune by Aphex Twin, and it concludes after over six and a half minutes in length.
#3 begins with some rather science fiction styled melodies playing, that are again, warm in texture. Another rather long and progressive listen, this does pack some good surprises within, provided you have the patience for it. A good listen, the warm and ambient washes throughout are really quite something. Great to hear when the mood strikes. This tune continues on for some time and it is a form of modern Classical music, in some ways. A nice listening experience, this is really quite sweet in its own way musically. These ambient washes are good to meditate to, or just closing one’s eyes and lying down in bed to enjoy. A really good piece of music, this is the sound of no man’s land, as Aphex Twin goes through unchartered waters. The second half of this tune is a little more interesting, with some extra melodies thrown into the mix for good measure. This continues to sound really awesome and great during this piece, which is nearly eight minutes long. A very strange listen, as though this is from another world. It slowly moves on throughout the universe very well, and is very nice to hear. Towards the end are some extra melodies thrown into the mix, and this wraps up with a very good mixture of ambient washes, before fading out. A really good piece of music.
#4 begins with some super dark electronic sounds that are actually quite freaky. This is still in line with the rest of the album, just a lot freakier than one would expect sonically. A really strange tune, this is not a million miles away from Industrial music, to be fair. A great piece of music that could have been in a science fiction film of some kind. Soon enough, more layers of instrumentation are layered over the top of this all, which sounds far out man. In the second half, this begins to sound really scary musically. The darkest of the dark by Aphex Twin is here. Nonetheless, this works incredibly well and sounds freaky. The track eventually begins to wrap up gradually with the main melody from the first part of the track being played, before concluding. Cool, but dark.
#5 begins with some faded spacey sounds that, again, are very dark. This is very eerie. Soon enough, some simple and treated percussion enters, sounding very odd indeed. The tune is deep, dark and unusual throughout, it doesn’t sound light at all. Even the wordless vocals don’t make this one light sounding. Some extra percussion is layered on top, and this piece of progressive Ambient music shines. Strange listening, however. Nonetheless, this is very dramatic and works okay. Soon enough, extra sounds are gradually layered on this tune. There is a slight and obvious flaw of this album by this point, and that is most people would find it difficult to get into these tunes. Regardless, the weird and dystopian piece here is really good. Towards the middle, we have a fade out of most melodies, before extra ghostly sounds enter. Indeed, these tunes definitely are not light. The ambience of it all is very nice, however. A good listening experience, the second half sounds more suspenseful, with some really strange melodies that are intelligently utilised and thrown into the mix. Richard D. James is a legend in music mastery. This sounds oddly different to any other kind of music, to this very day. Nonetheless, an enjoyable and interesting listen, but this isn’t EDM party music. It is simple and effective Ambient music, however. It begins to wrap up with the Ambient sounds being faded out and the drumbeats sounding clear. This is really sensational music, and although it takes some patience for the average listener to get through with its length, it is very rewarding. The last section is back from where we came at the start, before concluding.
#6 begins with some really weird and edited wordless vocal melodies. Perhaps Aphex Twin was doing a lot of drugs during the making of this album, who knows? Regardless, this is another dark and otherworldly listening experience that is quite short for this album, at three and a half minutes long. It is an unusual but rewarding listening experience that paints a good picture of artistry. In the second half, another melody becomes prominent, and this is a very odd and out there listen. It’s good and maintains one’s interest in the music throughout. At the end, this piece fades out nicely with the repeated melodies with it.
#7 begins with some weird melodies and ambient textures. This isn’t too far away from the basic Roland sounds that have been so predominant throughout Electronic musical history, but is original nonetheless. Spacey textures and keyboards then enter, and this piece is a strange science fiction styled epic that goes on for nearly nine minutes in length. Regardless, this tune is exceptionally decent. The tune itself is a good listen and has some vinyl static sounds in the background if you listen very carefully to this piece. Even so, the keyboards and loops on this tune are really nicely time stretched and wonderful. A clever piece of music and musicality, Aphex Twin goes where no man has gone before on this tune. An enjoyable and listenable tune that sounds really clever, different and dark. The second half has little musical change about it, and although this is excellent, there could have been some length carved off this tune. Still, it works extremely well on this album. Rather catchy and different, this music is extremely good for what it is. A mellow and introspective listening experience, this is best heard overall than described by words. Well worth your time, even though a couple of minutes could have been shaved off for the sake of the tune. Still, an excellent piece of sound is here. Nice work overall, this does sound really great. The ending is very Underworld sounding, and slows down, just before fading out. Good work.
#8 begins with some unorthodox beats that are nicely electronically treated. Soon enough, some melodies enter and we are underway on this tune. Another very eerie tune, this is EDM horror music or at least the equivalent of it. After a while enters some suspenseful melodies that sound unusual, adding more flavour to this strange piece of music. This is not exactly music for one to dance along to. Instead, it is intellectual music for those who crave it. Nonetheless, this is very good, despite the musical weirdness that these tracks exude. There is a dash of piano in the second half, adding some different sounds to the whole piece. A good five minute long piece to listen to. It’s okay, even if it isn’t the best thing from this album overall. It fades out nicely.
#9 begins with some distorted percussion loops and launches into a very Chiptune styled piece. Perhaps Aphex Twin was thinking about the future of music at this point? Regardless, this is simple and beautiful to listen to. In addition, this is a lot lighter musically than what has come before it. A really neat tune to listen to, this is very catchy. Some additional layers of sound enter, including dark bass sounds and extra edited percussion for you to hear. Towards the middle is a great addition of more minimal electronic sounds. This works very well and sounds pretty for its artistry. In the middle, everything gets subtle and quiet, with a cool melody and looped percussion, before returning to the main section of the track. A decent tune to listen to, this is one you must hear by Aphex Twin if you are a fan. It just works. Towards the end, the loops and melodies continue and sound really brilliant. A groundbreaking tune that adds some class and flavour to the album overall. A very underrated and wonderful listening experience. Worth your ears. It gradually cuts each sound loop out before concluding. Great job well done here.
#10 begins with some gradual yet super dark textures that are eerie to hear. This is not something you should play around young children, it is very psychologically freaky. These textures continue on for some time, and some other melodies gradually enter, illustrating this piece of music. A great and different tune in the history of music, this is intense. A really dark, freaky and discordant piece, this is music that should be present in a horror film or something similar. It’s really scary listening. This piece gradually progresses with other melodies in the background and sounds very brutally intense. Nonetheless, points go to Aphex Twin to create such dark wonders. This is the sort of music Darth Vader would chill out to. Towards the middle, the keyboard melodies come front and centre, along with some rather spacey textures to hear. This still sounds incredibly dark and morbid, but it is supposed to do so. Regardless, this is a really interesting piece of music, something that (arguably) evil aliens would enjoy, going through the universe in their spacecraft. It is extremely dark and scary listening. If you are not prepared to be shocked by the psychological terrors of low end frequencies, then you may want to skip this one. The second half seems quite a lot darker than the first half of this track but still retains the simplicity and brilliance of dark Ambient music. Not happy, cheerful or pleasant but instead, this is dark and scary. Wonderful regardless, and a must hear if you want your senses tested to the bone. Towards the end, things gradually get more minimal and there are some weird sounds in the background as well. Eventually, this wraps up with some very dark low frequencies before ending after nearly 10 minutes in length. Scary, all right.
#11 begins with some strange melodies that are delayed. Again, this is creative and artistic from the start. It does sound really great for what it is, and the textures present are minimal and magical. Soon into it, some high frequency sounds are added into the mix, which sounds like microphonic feedback, although it is not that at all. A really decent and dramatic tune to listen to and enjoy, the dark minimalism on this album is quite unsettling at times. Regardless, this is very good here. The tune progresses along minimally, and the sounds present are very really weird. This is not music one can close their eyes and meditate to unless you are into really dark and unsettling music. Nonetheless, in the second half, some extra textures are thrown in the mix that sounds really interesting. A really excellent piece of musical craft, the high-pitched sounds return with a vengeance, just musically though. A clever and interesting listen, this is another great instrumental with layers of sound that works effectively as a piece of music. This gradually ends with some volume swells of the tune, before concluding.
#12 launches straight into it with some unusual high-pitch melodies and some high-pitch vocal samples, along with wind chimes. Very different, but super cool. This is a very short piece for this album at just under three minutes in length. Still, it is an intriguing listening experience, with some downpitched vocals after the high-pitched vocals in the background. This is a very strange music piece, sort of like a bad LSD trip. Weird, all right. It ends abruptly, which is very unusual for this album. Odd.
#13 is back to the lengthy numbers at hand. It begins with some unusual pseudo-percussion sounds, followed quickly by some strange and unusual ethereal sounds thrown into the mix. Again, this is fairly dark and moody listening, and it doesn’t really sound that good for mainstream musical audiences to get into. It is very much an acquired taste in terms of musicality, and this music is from a very deep and introspective place. The ambient sounds throughout are warm and dense. This is a bit of a musical drag this piece, and although it deserves to be on the album, it does not really have anything great about it as a piece of music. The ambient washes sound excellent here though, even if this lengthy piece at over seven minutes does wear the listener out a bit. In any case, it’s good. Soon enough, in the second half, the melodies exit for a bit, leaving just the percussion, before they quickly return again. Fairly predictable stuff on this tune in any case. This repeats with the basic percussion sound and rather predictable melodies for some time. Thankfully, this tune does have an ending and towards the end this strips away the melodies again, leaving just the percussion, to fade out. Fairly dull tune.
#14 begins with a sustained spacey sound, kind of like a UFO entering in musical terms. This continues on for some time, with some additional textures added to this tune. Again, this takes a while to get going and suffers as a result. Some ghostly melodies then enter, making this piece a bit more suspenseful. Although this is very good music, it does have very limited musical appeal. Nonetheless, it works quite well. The spacey sounds and textures build up very nicely and this continues on for some time. Some of the sounds present are fairly unorthodox. By this point of the album, the appeal and patience of listening to this sort of music have worn off a little. Still, this is good for what it is. It does have some interesting textures throughout, but even so, this is a bit dull. In the middle are some deeper low-end textures to listen to, and these do sound really great. This is a good listen, but even so, the length and repetitive nature of this piece aren’t really worth it, to be fair. Good sounds, but poor delivery of such sounds. In any case, if you have reached this far, there is no real need to skip this track. It’s just boring, per se. In any case, the artificial sounds in the background are quite soothing for the most part. Towards the end, this piece has some more dramatic melodies thrown into it, but otherwise, this is fairly dull. It ends with the spacey UFO styled sounds.
#15 is fortunately shorter. It begins with some digitised and cut-up beats that are nicely programmed on this piece. A bit like Clicks and Cuts musically (a subgenre of EDM), this is a nice break from the dull monotony of the previous track. A great, interesting and adventurous musical piece that still retains its minimal nature, the beats and textures are exciting here. Enough for one to dance a little when you hear it, this is a good tune to hear. It’s shorter as well, around five and a half minutes long. Towards the middle are some extra and interesting textures thrown on top of this beatastic mix. A great, different and catchy piece, this is one of the more memorable highlights from this album. A good set of sounds and textures here, this does have some quirky appeal to it. Interesting, a bit like Air Drums from Outer Bongolia in the way that this is mainly edited percussion to listen to. All the same, this is very, very good. An enjoyable and listenable tune, although it simply is beats being played here. A wonderful and enjoyable listen from Aphex Twin.
#16 begins with some whooshing sounds that are very different here. This sounds like the noise of spacecraft in movies. It’s very surreal, and unsettling. All the same, this is interesting listening, even if the appeal of the album has worn off a bit by this point. This is not really traditional music in any sense. It is very Avant-garde and experimental Electronic music. Towards the middle, the whooshes stop and are replaced by some interesting and different robotic sounds, sounding a bit like R2-D2. Regardless, this is very good for what it is. A dramatic and interesting tune, although very weird, this is a good shorter piece from the album at under five minutes long. Still, it sounds extremely decent and wonderful for the listener to enjoy. A great and suspenseful piece, the last section of this track is quite amazing to hear. It has some more R2-D2 styled noises before this wraps up. A better tune overall.
#17 is just over two minutes long. It is primarily a melodic piece of music that is pleasant listening, quite unlike anything else on this album. There is a ton of delay added to this set of melodies, keeping with the overall theme of the album. This is a really lovely and gentle listening experience that just works. Awesome to hear, this is one of the standout and better tracks from this album. It ends with a gentle fade out.
#18 is a longer piece at over seven minutes in length. This goes back into the discordant sounds earlier on in the album and adds some bongo sounds to the mix as well. A good tune, even if it is more of the same as before. Still, it does work wonders if you have never really heard much Electronic music before. A really interesting set of melodies and sounds throughout, Aphex Twin does his best to keep things exciting. Regardless of the length of this massive album, there are gorgeous sounds and textures throughout. There are some interesting sounds, textures and percussions throughout, even if the appeal of the album has worn off quite a lot by this point. In the second half is some louder bongo based percussion, tambourine styled sounds and some beeps and bleeps. An intriguing listening experience, this is a real winner from this album. Despite the fact that this album can be a drag at times, this tune is not a drag for the most part. Towards the end we have the same melodies from the start of the track re-enter, and the bongo based percussion returns to join in. Towards the end, this does get rather repetitive and a bit of a drag. It finishes soon enough anyway.
#19 is a more popular piece from this lengthy album. It begins with some simple drumbeats, ethereal melodies and takes you elsewhere in a musical sense. This sounds much more accessible and great in a mainstream sense than what came before it. The drumbeats in particular are musically delicious and interesting music elements to enjoy. This piece has many layers to it, which is a good example of how technology and sounds can be built up to something decent and unique. Still, one cannot help but feel how rather dull this music listening experience is. Although we are approaching towards the end of this mammoth album release, it doesn’t really show any excitement by this point. A good effort nonetheless, although this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. The piece slowly progresses on, getting more boring by the minute. This is the sort of music that those who enjoy drugs would surely enjoy. Towards the end, the drumbeats exit and we are left with the main melodies for a bit, just before the drum beats re-enter. A very good listening experience overall, even if it is boring at times. This eventually stops after five minutes.
#20 is again, short for this album at just over four minutes in length. It begins with some relaxing ethereal sounds and these continue on for some time. This is a nice and relaxing tune, and is soothing and warm. Definitely a good piece of music that one can meditate to, this is a vast improvement over some of the other tracks on this album. A good and interesting piece of music. Again, it does suffer from overkill musically here in terms of track length, which is largely disappointing. A really unique tune, this is really excellent for what it is, even though it is far too minimal for many to enjoy. This album is kind of flogging a dead horse by this point in a musical sense. This track fades out gently at the end.
#21 begins with some super dark sounds, as we re-enter the freaky musical territory of where much of this album is. This is seven minutes in length. There are cut-up vocals, dark melodies and whooshes throughout that are seriously disturbing and unsettling. This album is totally different to anything its earlier volume one release was like. It also sounds like nothing else in the history of music, either. The sounds present are really dark and deep for Electronic music. This builds up and gets more intense as it goes on. Again, this music is somewhat like something out of a horror film soundtrack, although this is clearly Aphex Twin here. Near the middle are some additional sounds in the right channel, just before this continues on with the dark and rather discordant sounds. Freaky and different, this is very much like the sort of futuristic dystopian music that works very well. A good way to frighten the average listener, although again, this is too long as a track and needs to be heavily edited at this point. The spacey nature of this is compelling in its own way, however. This ends with some dark ambient washes, before stopping abruptly.
#22 begins with some interesting Acid like textures that sound like a digital didgeridoo, followed quickly by a ton of dark and freakily discordant sounds. This album seems to get darker and more discordant as it goes on. This is definitely not easy listening music to enjoy. If easy listening is what you want, avoid Aphex Twin here. There are some super twisted melodies throughout, and this sounds like an album that Count Dracula or someone similar would enjoy. In other words, this is unofficial horror movie music. It sounds very disturbing in general. One need not listen to Heavy Metal alone to enjoy the darker side of life, there are other examples, such as this album which point to that. A rather repetitive, but enjoyable piece of what one can explore in Electronic music. In the second half, the Acid textures get very noisy and intense. This is the Dark Side Of The Moon in realistic terms of1990s Electronic music. In the second half, these Acid textures are mixed in and out of consciousness, before the dark washes hit you. Towards the end, the Acid textures get more and more intense, sounding thick and layered. Eventually, this track draws to a close and finishes by fading out nicely. A good piece of music.
#23 is by far the longest piece on this already long album, going on over 11 minutes long. It begins with some strange and weird sounds and melodies that sound really odd and unusual. This is merely more of the same from this album. Indeed, if you are not a patient listener, do hit stop and go do something else. The repeated melody is very dull and naff here, hardly headbanging stuff. Instead, Aphex Twin is again, flogging a dead horse musically. This freaky and weird music drags on for way too long. There is some looped laughter in the left channel, to join the main melody being played here. A weird and strange listen, some basic and odd percussion sounds enter as well. Random and inaudible vocal samples are throughout this track, and the main melody is super annoying here. The laughter returns in the left channel, and this tune slowly and gradually continues on. Dull and boring for this kind of music, this is not worth the overrated ratings that this album usually gets. Instead, this is a failure of music and musicianship, even by Aphex Twin’s standards. Repetitive, bland and boring, Aphex Twin fails here. The second half is as just as lame as the first half, and the same musical loops repeat over and over again until you feel like putting this album into the dustbin of history, where it belongs. If you are not shaking your head by this point, obviously you have a great deal of patience musically. This is not normal music to hear. As it slowly marches on, this piece loses its appeal. Overrated, and a real disappointment in the history of music. Towards the end of this piece, this gets even more repetitive and bland. The ending of the tune gradually approaches with just the main annoying melody being played over and over again. This tune then ends with some minimal sounds and finally concludes. Absolute garbage.
#24 is the last track on this album, finally. It is under six minutes in length. It begins with more discordant and unpleasant melodies to hear, before launching into a very, very dark and scary sounding Ambient music piece. This is a definite improvement on the track before it, sounding way more focused than you’d think. This is one of the better pieces of music from this relatively hit-and-miss album. It does sound super dark and unpleasant, all the same. Definitely, not easy listening music to hear, this is a good horror movie instrumental sounding piece that those who are interested should hear. Very much everyone else should avoid this, however. A really acquired musical taste, once again. In the second half, the main melody ends, with the supporting melody getting more attention into the mix. Still, this is just an average album that could have been much better, in retrospect. Towards the end, the sounds and melodies combine in a very musically scary place. Not exactly easy listening. This continues for some time. The ending of the tune has an abrupt finish, and the album concludes here.
This is definitely not an album you can listen to in most circumstances. Even if you do, the two-and-a-half-hour running time is a big ask for the average listener. Also, the material here isn’t that good, either, it is fairly patchy compared to other Aphex Twin moments out there. The album suffers as a result overall due to its dark, discordant nature and repetition. Should you listen to this release? Definitely not, this is too experimental and unorthodox for most people out there to enjoy. In fact, this is Aphex Twin’s first musical failure. Avoid this like the plague.
Boring, dreary and repetitive.