September 2, 2022 | CULTURE | By Jan Alfaro | Photo by Daniel Sarché
Hello, hello, my name is Jan and I’m going to quickly use this space to introduce myself a little more before this column turns into pure music junk. I’m a senior neuroscience major, environmental science minor, pre-med track dude who likes music a lot so here I am, writing for fun.
“earjam” started as “headphone earwax” (you know when you have your headphones on for too long and then your ears feel stuffed?) and then got shortened to “ear jam” – you get the picture.
After reading this column, not only should your ears be stuffed with earwax, but they should also be jammed with good tunes and you should be jamming out, hopefully with some four berry jam on toast. Enough said. Welcome to earjam.
For this special first edition, I chose a tune I’ve had on repeat since the doom of summer ending crept in. “#3” by Aphex Twin came back into my life as I was driving to Colorado Springs preparing to move in for my final year at CC. After a summer full of fun, I was feeling about every emotion thinking about a new school year starting but thanks to the Spotify shuffle God, the ambient music extraordinaire Richard D. was there to save me.
Richard D. James, you ask?
Yes. James is a British electronic producer most famous by his alias Aphex Twin, but not shy from others including Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Brian Tregaskin, Caustic Window, AFX, and Phonic Boy on Dope. “#3” is the most popular track off the second studio album from Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works Volume II released in 1994.
On the album, James stated he was inspired by lucid dreaming – 70% of the 24-track album is comprised of tracks made during lucid dreaming which were then reproduced and recorded after waking up.
To get a sense of what the album sounds like, take it from no other than James himself, saying it’s like “standing in a power station on acid.”
“Power stations are wicked,” he said. “If you just stand in the middle of a really massive one… you get a really weird presence and you’ve got that hum. You just feel electricity around you. That’s totally dreamlike for me. It’s just like a right strange dimension.”
Established as a UK techno innovator after the release of his debut studio album Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and a half dozen other EPs, James made a clean break in the relatively small genre of ambient music with the release of SAW Volume II.
“#3” is known by fans as “Rhubarb” as with the physical release of the album, there was a picture of rhubarb attributed to it.
The track is soft and consonant, making one feel nostalgic with the repetitive five to six-note synth loop. At 7:44, the track ends but with the atmosphere created, it feels like the song could forever play in the background of my mind.
It’s a track that surrounds me with tranquility and makes me feel like everything will be alright. Perfect for the start of a new school year, right? I’ll be revisiting Aphex Twin so don’t worry, there’s much to be excited about. For now, give “#3” a listen and cheers to the start of a great, ambient music-filled school year.
Here’s a #3 inspired playlist: