Aphex Twin classic or Dud?

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Also I think the market for incredibly lush club ambient is a little larger than the market for techno.

There also wasn't as much downtempo back then. People were listening to simplistic Ninja Tune stuff - just a drum loop, a vocal sample and some flute - because there were no other options.

but everybody calls me, (lukas), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:27 (four months ago) link

You think? It's not like it stretches back years before SAW, but there was stuff by the Orb and Orbital, plus proto Warp stuff, right? And KLF and ambient house stuff, right?

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:34 (four months ago) link

Yeah, Selected Ambient Works definitely fit into the whole ambient house/chill out boom that was hip in 1992. Whereas techno wasn't really an album-oriented genre (yet).

There also wasn't as much downtempo back then. People were listening to simplistic Ninja Tune stuff - just a drum loop, a vocal sample and some flute - because there were no other options.
I can't don't remember this kind of Ninja Tune/Nightmares on Wax kind of downtempo being much of a thing in the early nineties? IIRC it only became prominent in the middle of the decade. In 1992 chill out was mostly hippie synth swooshes and dub basslines and nature documentary samples, not breaks and jazz loops.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:42 (four months ago) link

yeah, the entire phenomenon of the "chill-out room" had been going for actual years, and the Orb's ambient phase started in 1989

Ninja Tune's Brakes series were meant to be sample / DJ tools, not really intended for home listening. though obv once you've bought a CD in 1992 you're going to goddamn listen to it over and over to get your money's worth.

SAW 1 was only released in Belgium and Japan until the turn of the century. SAW II came out in the UK, US, Australia etc.

blokes you can't rust (sic), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:45 (four months ago) link

SAW 1 was only released in Belgium and Japan until the turn of the century.
Huh? Apollo/R&S is a Belgian label, but certainly their releases were available all around Europe? At least they (including SAW 1) were here in Finland.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:50 (four months ago) link

Even some of the stuff on Flexistentialism is super tracky. Yes, that was after 92, but I think SAW I had a very functional role throughout the 90s after the party. Home listening pounding techno not so much.

but everybody calls me, (lukas), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:54 (four months ago) link

xp Yep SAW1 was also easily available in the UK at the time of its original release.

Kim Kimberly, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 20:33 (four months ago) link

to me 85-92 has a mid-fi roughness that’s absent from most “ambient” stuff of that era. and the use of reverb is exquisite.

brimstead, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 21:35 (four months ago) link

R&S had great distribution! Surfing On Sine Waves got an actual US release on a label in Josh’s city, which is the difference he was ruminating on

blokes you can't rust (sic), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 21:59 (four months ago) link

On/via ... TVT?

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 22:54 (four months ago) link

Wax Trax via TVT

blokes you can't rust (sic), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 23:03 (four months ago) link

Surfing on Sine Waves says very clearly right on the label that it is the work of Richard D. James so there was no mystery about the source at the time.

everything, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 23:44 (four months ago) link

yes but people who've heard or read something about this "Aphex Twin" making noise from some place in the Englands, without digging deeply into his backstory or buying import 12"s or listening to late-night college radio with informed nerdlord DJs, would not necessarily see a record by "Polygon Window" in their record shop, then pick it up, slide one of the inner sleeves out, put the gatefold back in the rack, carefully remove the record from the inner sleeve, read that the contents were programmed by "richard d james," and ruminate to themselves "Ah! Perhaps this James has issued other records beneath further pseudonyms. As his publishing is unassigned, my best bet for finding out whether he has credits under other names is to use a mechanical pencil to write an aerogramme to the PRS, whose London address I happen to know off by heart."

And then wait months for a reply, and in the meantime say to themselves ".....OH!. Dick James. It's a joke name, referencing the Beatles' publisher of Northern Songs fame. Those wacky English techno japesters, how foolish of me."

Honestly? Probably no more than 30% of Americans browsing in record shops did this at the time, and their local emporia might have been sold out of the Xylem Tube EP 12" by the time they did get an answer.

blokes you can't rust (sic), Wednesday, 24 April 2019 00:58 (four months ago) link

Surfing on Sine Waves was stickered saying it was Aphex Twin.

stirmonster, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 03:05 (four months ago) link

I feel like more time passed than is apparent. At least from the states perspective....the timeframe between the release of SAW and it's press/hype, and the eventual us wax trax/tvt release of Surfing felt like a different era to me.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 03:14 (four months ago) link

Surfing on Sine Waves was stickered saying it was Aphex Twin

in the US, too? (Dan?)

(it's a moot point re this thread bcz Josh knew anyway, I'm just curious)

blokes you can't rust (sic), Wednesday, 24 April 2019 09:10 (four months ago) link

It's been a looooong time, but while I *knew* that Polygon Window was Aphex Twin, I really don't remember it stickered as such. I just thought it was a side project of sorts, and tried to determine how it was different from the "real" thing. I did know about Aphex Twin beforehand, but I'm not sure what I'd heard of his, if anything, so I must have based my purchase on a review I read somewhere (The Wire?). I'm not sure when I first saw SAW in the shops here, but I know I didn't feel like paying $30 or whatever for it on CD. I don't think I heard SAW until after the release of SAWII, but again, it's been a looooooong time.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 11:59 (four months ago) link

I don't know if the US version was stickered. The album was very heavily promoted and written about here in the UK and "Quoth" had already been a very big club hit. Not sure The Wire would have covered it though - i can't recall if they had quite got to this kind of thing yet by that point.

stirmonster, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:32 (four months ago) link

also, the track "polygon window" was on warp's artificial intelligence compilation which had been a big deal.

visiting, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 14:52 (four months ago) link

As memory serves this stuff was coming out fast and furious as soon as labels like TVT started distributing. There was like a backlog that kept hitting the shelves. At the school paper I remember being excited every time something from TBT arrived, even though it was often forgettable stuff like Rise Robots Rise iirc.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:08 (four months ago) link

TVT, whoops.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:33 (four months ago) link

My memory is that SAW and SAWII received a wider critical reception, had better distribution and had generally remained widely available. Surfing On Sine Waves, stop me if I'm wrong, actually went out of circulation at some point, and while not rare exactly, was a bit trickier to find... the early AFX and Caustic Window records were somewhat similar in that respect. I don't remember people not realising that it was all being produced by Richard James at the time, at least in my circle of DJ friends.

MikoMcha, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:42 (four months ago) link

“It’s these people called Aphex Twins” 😭 pic.twitter.com/G6aygIiaFL

— arj (@shempiii) April 27, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 27 April 2019 19:04 (four months ago) link

Great retrospective SAWII review by Sherburne: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/aphex-twin-selected-ambient-works-volume-ii/

blokes you can't rust (sic), Sunday, 5 May 2019 21:27 (four months ago) link

It was a great piece, provides lots of context.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 5 May 2019 21:40 (four months ago) link

trying not to take the bait on that rating

but everybody calls me, (lukas), Sunday, 5 May 2019 22:20 (four months ago) link

what sort of maniac reads a numerical rating on a record review

blokes you can't rust (sic), Sunday, 5 May 2019 23:08 (four months ago) link

Good piece. (I think the album deserves a 10, if any album does...)

get your hand outta my pocket universe (morrisp), Monday, 6 May 2019 00:22 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

in the unlikely event anyone wants Collapse but doesn’t have it, send me a webmail and i’ll send you a download code

but everybody calls me, (lukas), Monday, 15 July 2019 22:00 (two months ago) link


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