Aaron A. from VIRGINIA BCH, VA Reviewed on 4/5/2012...
Listen to this with headphones and "experience" all the subtleties that are layered on these two discs.
Challenging, brilliant and paradigm-shifting
Michael Paulsen | Rancho Santa Margarita, CA USA | 03/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As when this collection was released in 1994, SELECTED AMBIENT WORKS VOL. II continues to confound techno fans and musicologists alike. Richard James working under his most famous guise, Aphex Twin, released this collection which is still one of the most significant electronic albums ever released and, yes, RDJ is both a genius and a calculated, smart-arsed iconoclast, but a con-artist he ain't. Many people appear to be so outraged by this album (what no song titles? where are the hum-along melodies? where are the dance beats?) that they are prone to ridicule it with knee jerk 1-star reviews -- you can almost visualize the terror in their eyes when their notions of music have been turned upside-down by this album. Frequently devoid of percussion, the musicscapes and tone poems found here are a mix of the profoundly beautiful, terrifying and dissonant. This album is for anyone with enough musical sense to look beyond standard pop music structure and dance beats and a willingness to explore darker, abstract and frequently microtonal electronic music like you've never heard before. If you can appreciate Xenakis, John Cage, Brian Eno, Stockhausen and other early electronic/ambient/avant-garde pioneers then this album is a must. Granted, a few tracks are downright grating, but even they have their place on this album. Now that electronica is a bonafide genre choked with literally thousands of subpar artists and compilations, this album stands as a rare, mind-altering jewel ... now more than ever."
THERE ARE NO BEATS HERE.....
J. Michael Showalter | Nashville, TN United States | 08/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Again, there are no beats.There is nothing resembling a beat. Nor song structure. Nor anything you've heard before.... I've read that James put together this album as something of a joke on critics and people who thought that the first volume of this was as minimalist as things some. Together with Autechre's Tri Repeatae++, this is the most inhuman music that I've ever heard. It is out of this world different, and that is a good thing.You want to dance to this, you'd better have some good... This is chill out, meditational, semi-holy music good for periods of lucidity. Its like rocks talking to you, it is like a space probe from genius coming down to Indiana....it takes time. Don't buy this if you're not going to give it a chance, don't buy it if you're not willing to let it settle. YOU WILL HAVE WASTED YOUR MONEY! If all of these conditions are fulfilled, get used to it and let yourself fall half asleep. It will change you."
firstname.lastname@example.org | Calico Rock, Arkansas | 04/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listening to Select Ambient Works Volume II is without a doubt an un-earthly experience. If you have ever wondered what aliens listen to in their lesure time, purchase this cd and you will know. The soft, weightless, flow of some of the tracks leave you in an almost traqualized state. The fluidly sequenced rhythms and beats, along with the unexplainable voices and alienesque sounds are at times a bit erie. This is definitely music to relax, study, write, or sleep to. When I first purchased this album, I was a bit displeased, but after a week or two it began to grow on me. This cd is very theraputic and at times can leave you feeling druged and numb. If you are stressed, depressed, angry, or sad, this cd can make everything dissapear. If you ever feel like drifting away, just slip this cd in and your mind will travel to far off places, where aliens lurk in the shadows, studying your every move. Richard D. James is by far the most talented, versital, mind-blowing knob twiddler in the electronic/ambient genre. Every Richard D. James cd I have purchased, whether its Aphex Twin, Caustic/Polygon Window, or Afx, he never ceises to amaze me. He will always continue to be #1 on my electronic music roster."
If Aliens Were Making Records...
DAC Crowell | 01/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...they would turn out like this, quite possibly. This is perhaps not only one of Richard James's finest shining moments, but one of the best recordings of ambient music. No...not 'ambient techno', but _ambient_ as in the same spirit as Brian Eno et al. Best listening volume for this, like all good ambient, is very low and off in the background. Sadly, the candyravers didn't get this album at all, expecting it was going to be something probably like Polygon Window V.whatever. Well...no. Beats are largely missing, replaced with an occasional pulse more akin to minimalist music. That acid squawp that everyone who picked up the early Rephlex 12"s is looking for is also missing, replaced there with an atmospheric, accomplished electronic sound. In short, this is a truly amazing work by someone who, at the time it was conceived, was really trying to push the boundaries of where electronic music was going in the 90s. It's too damned bad the kids didn't pick up on it, and wound up pissing RDJ off by dumping on this fantastic work so that he never went back to such fascinating territory. One other note, for those completists out there: the US CD release of this is missing two tracks, the UK CD is missing one, which can be found on the original Warp 3-LP vinyl version."