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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Scrutinising the inscrutable, 3 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II: 2 (33 1/3) (Paperback)
Never was the phrase "Trying to write about music is like trying to knit a gas jumper" more apt than here.

On the one hand, anyone buying a book about the Aphex Twin expecting to learn more about this most publicity-shy of artists only has themselves to blame.

On the other hand, having read Chris Ott's decent book on Unknown Pleasures (also from the 33 1/3 series) I expected something passable.

There is an awful lot of pointless discussion in this book. There's nothing wrong per se in reading someone else's thoughts on the Aphex Twin's second album "Selected Ambient Works Volume II" - even if their musings don't contain any new information, but here Marc Weidenbaum wastes space and time on such topics as the track names on Gracenote, (pedantically) why there was never a volume 1 (the Aphex Twin's previous release having been titled "Selected Ambient Works 85-92": this discussion could apply to any number of releases Marc, e.g. Abba's "Greatest Hits" and "Greatest Hits Vol. 2") and what volume 3 might sound like.

As an introduction to the album this book fails with its confusing prose and general lack of basic information about the artist. The topics that the author tries to touch on are more suitable for a thesis or a text book than a 127 page book about a classic, if quirky, album. If you want an introduction to the record, just buy the record - it'll probably cost you about the same anyway.

Controversially, Marc Weidenbaum appears to presume that Richard D. James was influenced by Brian Eno in the making of this record, but I personally don't think that can be taken as read and I didn't find it a useful parallel. Indeed, whilst I didn't do a word count, I can say for certain that the name "Brian Eno" crops up more in this book than the name "Richard D. James" and probably also occurs more even than the name "Aphex Twin". How can that be in a book ABOUT the Aphex Twin? In fact, no kidding, I learned more about the making of Eno's "Discreet Music" LP than I did about "Selected Ambient Works Volume II" from this book.

There are a few interesting facts, which it would be unfair of me to give away here, including, as a previous reviewer has mentioned, how Warp Records did the deal with Sire Records for the US release - but that really is as good as it gets (i.e. not very): nothing that really justifies the purchase price.

Overall, I can't fault the author's/publishers choice of record and it's not that badly written in comparison with other music books. The main problem is that the book is lacking any genuine substance. Maybe a better editor encouraging the author to use more press clippings and interviews with those who know James would have been a better idea?

Even if you're a big fan of the Aphex Twin, do yourself a favour and browse this in Waterstones, don't bother buying it.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Nov 2014 14:36:55 GMT
chriszanf says:
The correct maxim is: "Strictly considered, writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics." The New Republic, The Unseen World by H. K. M

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Nov 2014 20:04:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Nov 2014 20:05:17 GMT
Ah, I don't know that one. I was quoting the music journalist John McCready from the liner notes of Network - The Box Set. Maybe McCready lifted it from your source?
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Reviewer

Colin McCartney
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 570