Monday, July 12, 2004


the train journey from moreton-in-marsh to Paddington is fantastic. you see the kinds of things you forget exist living in suburbia; grazing sheep, deep cuttings through hills, fields until the horizon, reservoirs, sewage farms, tiny stations with one platform and no ticket office like honeybourne, pershore and kingham just saved from the Dr. Beeching cuts. The train had to wait at a signal for 20 minutes, but because it was such a beautiful evening no one seemed to mind. The japanese family opposite me started taking photos out of the window. As you get closer and closer to London you begin to notice the city encroaching on the countryside. Pylons become more frequent, a huge sci-fi industrial power station between oxford and slough, some new housing estates right next to the tracks.

Most of the way I was listening to Aphex Twin's Selected ambient works 85-92. Having recently got this back from a friend, I was worried that my current exposure to loads minimal house and techno, would render this album redundant, or kind of primitive. God, i was so wrong. Some of these tracks still had me on the edge of tears, so soft and gently they touch your brain cells. On 'Xtal' every sound is a caress. 'i' is like sunlight leaving imprints on your eyes. 'We are the music makers' groovy as anything, but not a dance track by any means, another warm sumptuous hug. Everything on this album seems soft and tactile, no hard callouses or matted fur.The darker tracks like 'Hedphelym' and 'Schottkey 7th Path' are simultaneously reflective and sinister, like an angry but loving parent. 'Ptolemy' and 'delphium' are detroit hits that never were, they sound so classic and fertile. 'Pulsewidth' is pure langorous contentment, a memory from a happy dancefloor. Some of these track trip some receptor in my brain telling me to dance, but when I try to my hips don't respond, all I can do is close my eyes and slowly move my arms, the rhythms are just out of reach. The brilliance of this album may be because of the surroundings I was in and memory buttons pressed by mixing of this album and environment; i used to alternate between this and Loveless as my soundtrack for cycling along the disused railway line from Hatfield to St Albans usually at the same time in the summer evening, past hidden lakes and huge orange fields. I know that I have to buy Selected ambient works 2 soon (i know, i know, what an oversight) but I find it hard to believe it will top this. Selected ambient works 85-92 is just too heavily imprinted on me to be dislodged. It's my property, my memories are built around it, and I cannot give higher praise than that.
I think on this train journey I managed to reactivate some strange happiness gland that switched off recently, just by looking at little details going by and listening to music.The first time I hadn't been slightly anxious or nervous of something for as long as I can be bothered to remember. It won't leave my discman for months.


Blogger Edd said...

I suddenly started believing that Loveless and Selected Ambient Works I were the same album about 3 months ago. Xtal especially sounds a bit like Kevin Sheilds could have done it (except with guitars rather than sythns obviously). They are both astonashing albums and strangely work well together... try listening to one and thinking about the other at the same time.

July 20, 2004 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Jak said...

i see what you mean, but SAW sounds so much lighter and less dense than loveless. like comparing floating in air to swimming. i could never choose one over the other though.

July 20, 2004 at 4:23 PM  

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