Aphex Twin one of the working names for Richard James, an artist with a unique, quirky angle on electronica. His Selected Ambient Works, Volume II, is a set of abstract musical pieces that add to the ambient genre started by Brian Eno.
On Volume II, each track is electronic tone painting, that explore a broader palette of electronic sound generation than Eno’s work. There about 150 minutes of music, spread out over two CDs. The music draws heavily on synthesizers, but also on sampled sounds.
This collection is more coherent than his previous set of ambient pieces, Selected Ambient Works ’85-’92. As a result, it works better as a complete listening experience. Most of the works have no beats, but are instead made up of slowly repeating electronic sounds, some acoustic sounds such as piano, and some unidentifiable noises. The music isn’t immediately accessible, like some ambient music. It covers a dark ambient territory, similar to Eno’s On Land.
The music is very evocative, and is a modern classic of ambient music.