Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works Volume II” by Marc Weidenbaum

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33 1/3 are a wonderful imprint of books. The premise is – each little pocket size book is about a single famous album. The full list is very diverse ranging from Dusty Springfield to industrial legends Throbbing Gristle to the Super Mario Bros soundtrack. The issue, however, with each album being a different beast, and each book by a different author that the quality can vary hugely, as can the format of the books – the PJ Harvey book, for example, was less a critical music book and instead viewed the album through short stories. Most however are music journalism.

This book, by Marc Weidenbaum, however fails to capture the record for me. It didn’t really illuminate for me one of my favourite records (and certainly my favourite going to sleep record), didn’t put forth any new tidbits really, bar an interview with the guy who named the famously unnamed tracks.

I don’t know – the book just didn’t gel. While it picked up later, the first lengthy chapter discusses other critics who maintain that the album is beatless despite Weidenbaum asserting that it isn’t, or is, honestly I’m not quite sure (for the record: it isn’t beatless, there are beats, and it is an ambient record, these things can co-exist!). However having such an in-depth, and some may say pointless argument heading the book left me a little exhausted. The expected interviews crop up but nothing in this book extended my reach of the album. Now, I understand that this is a difficult album to talk about BUT I didn’t decide to write a book about it. A missed opportunity.

You can reserve a copy of this book at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

[However, I still love 33 1/3 and would recommend these:
#15 – Radiohead’s OK Computer
#36 – My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless
#54 – Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats
Next up on my list to read is #120 – Angelo Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks – I’ll let ye know how I get on!]

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