Boomkat Product Review:
The haunting soundtrack to so many comedowns and moments of existential moping, SAW II is an arch masterpiece of ‘90s ambient music treasured by practically anyone who crosses its path.
First released in 1994, a couple of years after Selected Ambient Works 85-92, the follow-up largely does away with beats in favour of properly K’d out atmospheres and meandering melodies that lull us into thee lushest and strangest headspace. It’s fair to say that a whole generation of ravers grew up with a copy of this album in one of its many forms (there are multiple editions with very slightly different tracklists) but the effect remains the same; a deeply hypnotic sense of déjà entendu, sehnsucht, hiraeth, or whatever the fuck you call that feeling when you go to feed a squirrel and it runs away.
The bulk of the album’s 24 tracks are shy of AFX’s signature perc, and for that reason, among others, it stands well out from the rest of his catalogue on its own, shivering and ponderous, lost to its own thoughts. All the tracks were originally titled with an image, which makes identifying each one a pain in the arse, and it kills the magic to refer to digits. It’s better grasped in synaesthetic sensations and terms with which it was painted, which will only become apparent to the user as they waft along conjuring harmonic sound/image and olfactory/spatial, or whichever sensory short-circuiting feeling that it elicits for those susceptible to such stuff. To be honest, we’re not sure if we or anyone else has ever completed the whole thing in a conscious state from end to end and best enjoyed it; you’d just be fighting the feeling of its sanguine seduction; best to let your eyes fall to half-mast and let it infect your space like no other, allowing AFX to be your dreamstate shaman guiding you through its shifting tonalities, letting it play out on the back of your eyelids and draw you into the strangest, most unsettling and ephemeral headspaces imaginable.