Friday, February 21, 2014

Selected Ambient Life

I recently read an article that dissected Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works II and it pointed out that this record turns twenty years old this year. Throughout the article there are various accounts of hearing this album for the first time and the long lasting effects it has had on the individual.

This article(which can be found here) reminded me of my own experience finding this music, or rather it finding me as is often the case in my experience. I was sixteen years old. My best friend, his girlfriend, and I had driven out to the beach where we dropped acid. It was my first time. We hung around the beach, which was about 30 or 40 minutes form where we lived, hoping to have this experience together near the water. Nothing was happening. An hour later we were convinced we'd been given bunk acid.

We piled back in to Stephanie's Cutlass Supreme(which was a total cherry, by the way) and started heading back home, angry and disappointed, to find the guy who'd led us astray. After traveling east on I-4 from Daytona for about twenty minutes it started happening: from my vantage point in the backseat on velour seats I noticed colors(green on the left side, purple on the right) dividing my field of vision. I sat in the back and pondered this for a moment wondering what the fuck was going on. The head lights of on-coming traffic became sparkling diamonds veering off from the road curving directly into my eye sockets. They were blinding me and it was the most dazzling thing I'd ever seen. I started to realize what was happening and this realization spread through my being like a message I had always been wanting to receive. A song on the radio caught my attention. We were listening to Echoes on NPR. It must have been a Saturday night. It was the perfect song to begin what ended up being an insane journey. I was reminded immediately of Brian Eno and Harold Budd, which were my among my favorites having followed the breadcrumb trail from Cocteau Twins' collaboration with Harold Budd.

I was aware of Aphex before this album, having been really into the Polygon Window and AFX releases, as well as much of what had come out on Warp Records, that came before this and I can't say this album altered the path I was already on, but it certainly reinforced it. It's been part of my life longer than it has not been, at this point and though it's not something I turn to that often anymore I have a tenderness for it, it's sounds, and the remembrance of the sweet, naivete of my person when discovering it.

Happy Birthday, Selected Ambient Works Volume II.