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Selected Ambient Works 85-92

108 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 12, 2002

Editorial Reviews

Reissue on Play It Again Sam America.

1. Xtal
2. Tha
3. Pulsewidth
4. Agiespolis
5. I
6. Green Calx
7. Heliopsphan
8. We Are The Music Makers
9. Schottkey 7th Path
10. Ptolemy
11. Hedphelym
12. Delphium
13. Actium

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 12, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Play It Again Sam
  • ASIN: B00005Y1TL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,204 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Angry Mofo on December 3, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Allow me to introduce you to Richard D. James (alias Aphex Twin, AFX, and a slew of other inscrutable pseudonyms), a charming bon vivant from Cornwall who is known today for his delightfully blithe eccentricity and iconoclasm. Before he played at clubs using sandpaper on the turntables instead of records, however, and before that hilariously bizarre "Come to Daddy" video, he made Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and by doing so basically singlehandedly created contemporary electronica.
I have no easy explanation for why Selected Ambient Works is as good as it is. Here's what I've got it down to: this music is possessed of a remarkable spontaneity and unpretentiousness. The best talents always made their work seem like play, like it came effortlessly to them, without taking themselves seriously. The songs on this album are like that. They are marvelous in their simplicity. It's as if Aphex Twin sat himself down and peeled off great song after great song with complete abandon. It's the work of someone who simply loved making sounds - in fact, you can tell when you're at a sound AFX liked particularly, since he tends to linger on his favourites and extend their playing time. That's not a flaw. The sounds are so good that you'll want to linger on them as well.
On this album, Aphex managed to take many a cliche of electronic music and give them all a completely original, unworldly quality. Most of the songs are built around groovy, but more or less conventional dance beats; however, they are bathed in soft feedback and melodies of unearthly beauty.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Steward Willons TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"Selected Ambient Works 85-92" is one of those rare albums where a composer provides clear evidence that he or she is in that special class of artistic genius where true originality is possible. I'm not suggesting that this is Aphex Twin's best album, as best work was yet to come; nor am I suggesting that this is one of the greatest electronic albums of all time. Perhaps it is, but the key is its influence. "SAW" is practically synonymous with that early Warp Records sound (although SAW wasn't actually released on Warp). The album is one of the sacred texts of the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) movement and on this disc, you can hear the ideas that helped make electronic music what it is today.

"SAW" dates back to a time when Aphex Twin was using a lot of analogue gear and the tracks have a nice warmth to them. Many of the sounds on this album will already be familiar to most listeners since they entered the canon of electronic sounds long ago. The cool thing is, this album is where so much began.

In 2008, the year of the re-release, SAW sounds dated, but not in a bad way. The song construction is timeless, but style of the album is firmly rooted in the early 90s acid house and inchoate IDM scene. The remastered version keeps the sounds true to the original, but everything sounds a bit more forward and present. As mastering levels increased over the years, some of this early music began to sound a little anemic when played at the same volume. The remastered tracks now sound full and rich, and the overall sound matches what we expect from contemporary recordings. If you have the original, as I did, I'm not sure if the price of upgrading your recording is necessarily worth it. You'll have to make that call for yourself, but it is a fun way to rediscover a beloved classic.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Richard Reitzenstein on June 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
There's no way on earth you could not submit to the charm of this album. Fans of Aphex's later work should find out where his mastery of perfection all began, and newcomers should give it a listen on the basis of this album's amorphous beauty and charisma. This album contains, in its purest form, the common link between all electronic forms of music. While Richard's more recent singles have been poured through a thick film of sarcasm, the songs of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 truly represent the subliminal moodiness that has followed him through I Care Because You Do and the Richard D James LP. As detailed and undulating as his new work is, sometimes I feel as though he has lost some of the pensive and brooding airiness that makes his work so unique.
Beautiful melodies that get caught in your mind form an addiction that is only appeased by another listen. Like the dude said, timeless is the best word to use to describe this album, for although the instruments used in this creation have been surpassed by ten years of updated models, the compositions are perfectly executed, thus exposing the raw beauty, devoid of distraction or clutter. The fact that this is still widely regarded as Richard D. James' finest album to date shows what perfection has been achieved here.
Songs that still need a listen years after buying this album: Tha, Pulsewidth, i, Ageispolis [which I am only just beginning to really get into], Heliosphan, Hedphelym and Actium. The first track is a really nice introduction, too. I reccommend listening to Heliosphan or We Are The Music Makers if you want to make a decision online. The other tracks require many, many listens to reveal their true beauty, plus RealAudio can kill some of the joy of those subliminal basslines.
Another thing.
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