Aphex Twin - Stone In Focus [1994]

I remember hearing that Selected Ambient Works Volume II was a lesser album for Aphex Twin, but I was just beginning my dive into the world of electronic music and I picked it up anyway at Volume, the local used CD store in Virginia Beach. Inside that CD, I found none of the frenetic digital programming that had made me take wide-eyed notice of Richard D. James in the first place, and I imagine that's what turned a lot of people off. I loved it though.

SAWII, as it's shorthandedly known, took more influence from Brian Eno's work with tape delay, such as Discreet Music, which I wouldn't come across for another decade or so. As an album, it sways between lush, loving pieces and those that dwell in a feeling of unsettling spook. I tended to go through the forgotten routine of programming my CD player to skip the one's that brought unease.

Looking back, it makes sense that it's probably my second favorite of his albums (all praise to ...I Care Because You Do), as it was my first glimpse of the world of the genre's of ambient & new age that I've grown a strong appreciation for over the years. It's also an album of songs that take their inspiration from photographs, which is a commonality shared with the previously discussed Arthur Russell's "Instrumentals" and definitely makes me curious to find other albums that employ the process.

I say all that to get to the point that this track was not on the double CD album of SAWII that I bought and played over and over, it was, unbeknownst to me, only on the LP release, so I only found out about it last year when it was included on the digital re-release. Hearing it for the first time, I was floored. It fit in so well to the collection and stands out as one of the best pieces from the project. It's such a lovely meditation that I think I'll stop waxing nostalgic and just give it another listen.

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