Originally located on but now hosted on this site by agreement.

Part One

Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works II stands out on its own among all his albums. Besides being different from his usual tracks laced with fast beats and harsh shounds, it's also different from any ambient albums out there. None of the tracks on this album are titled, and the sleeve doesn't seem to say much about what you're listening to. Whare are these blury pictures and these circle symbols all about?

Part Two

Well, if you're a little observant you will notice that each "pie" symbol is divided into four sections (with the exception of one, which has five), with each section representing a song. One pie actually represents a side of one of the three LPs comprising the LP version of SAWII, with the size of the section of the pie representing the length of the song. Thus the album must come on three LPs with four songs on each side of an LP, except on side 2 of the second LP.

Now which section represents which song, and how do the pictures fit into this? Things get a bit complicated if you have the CD version of SAWII because that version is missing track #19. This 10 minute track wouldn't fit on the CD and thus it was left out. On the US version of SAW II, track #4 was also left out for unknown reasons. Perhaps the CDs are manufactured differently and don't allow a whole 80 minutes to fit in, or maybe the track was simply edited out.

Selected Ambient Works II CD sleeve (UK version)

Selected Ambient Works II CD sleeve (US version)

Part Three

The six pie symbols representing the six sides also appear as a group on the sleeve. Let's start with the top left pie, the green-yellow one. This one represents tracks 1 to 4, as shown on the picture. If you made a pie chart where each section of the pie represents the length of the track, you would get exactly the same pie symbol. Let's look at the groups of blurry pictures now. On the sleeve, each picture has a one of the pie symbols on it, with one section of the pie highlighted. This obviously tells us that each section of each pie is matched to one picture.

Using the green-yellow pie again, we look for it in the pictures. It helps that each picture that belongs to a certain pie is in a circle of the same colour as the pie and also has a frame of the same colour. Finding the big green-yellow circle, we can thus match its four pictures to its four tracks. The topmost picture shows a rock face, the one under it some kind of organic-looking tubes, and the two on the left show a piece of cloth and a metallic object.

Part Four

There's a description for every one of these pictures floating around. Some of these seem very subjective and I don't know who decided on them, but they seem to be accepted by everyone. From these descriptions we get the unofficial track listing for SAW II, as follows:

Disc 1

1 - `cliffs'
2 - `radiator'
3 - `rhubarb'
4 - `hankie'
5 - `grass'
6 - `mold'
7 - `curtains'
8 - `blur'

Disc 2

9 - `weathered stone'
10 - `tree'
11 - `domino'
12 - `white blur 1'
14 - `parallel stripes'
15 - `shiny metal rods'
16 - `grey stripe'
17 - `z twig'

Disc 3

18 - `window sill'
19 - `stone in focus'
20 - `hexagon'
21 - `lichen'
22 - `spots'
23 - `tassels'
24 - `white blur 2'
25 - `matchsticks'

Part Five

In the US version SAW II, almost all the blurry photos are replaced with ones that are in focus, and the descriptions above apply to the UK versions of the pictures. Also, the photo for track #19 (stone in focus) is blank on the US version. Other differences between the two versions include the artwork on the CDs: it's easier to identify tracks in the UK version because each CD has the tracks, represented by pie symbols, printed on it in the correct order:

In contrast, the two US CDs are almost identical, simply having the six pie symbols printed on them in a single colour:

Part Six

Both the UK and US versions also should come with an insert that has credits printed on it. The UK CD I have didn't include one so I can't provide a picture of it here. According to the Complete Aphex Twin Discography, the credits info is different for each album, with the US version having some info airbrushed out and replaced. Also, according to Rusty: "the LP limited edition version has a black and white cover and pictures. The insert sheet with credits is also black & white, with the writing actually scratched into the metal. On the CD sheet it looks as though the credits were too small so they had to superimpose "clearer" writting over the picture". Rusty said he might be able to provide me some scans of the LP, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

Selected Ambient Works II CD insert (US version):

Selected Ambient Works II CD cover:

Selected Ambient Works II CD back cover (UK version):

Selected Ambient Works II CD back cover (US version):