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Selected Ambient Works 85-92

4.7 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 12, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Reissue on Play It Again Sam America.
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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 (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,445 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Aphex Twin Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Audio CD
This is an album that puts a smile on my face, right from the first few notes. Full of lovely synth textures and beats that are at once interesting and unobtrusive, it is great music for a rainy afternoon indoors, or for playing softly while you go to sleep.
I haven't found many albums of this particular electronica subcategory ("ambient techno" or whatever they're calling it these days) that retain my interest as much as this one does. It's much more interesting to me than "Music Has the Rights to Children" by Boards of Canada, for instance. I find the layering of ryhthms on this album to be of a better design, and I love humming along with the bass lines - they are often wonderful melodies in themselves.
One caveat: it's definitely not a challenging record. It's good and safe for folks who like their beats to be in 4/4 and their sandwiches built on Wonder white bread, but those Autechre fans looking for their next intellectual conquest will no doubt find it lacking.
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Format: Audio CD
*The* classic Aphex Twin album, 'SAW' is a collection of floaty, mostly ambient / unusual dance / chill-out tracks (except for one distorted hardcore tune), recorded on primitive four-track equipment from 1985 to 1992. Despite the great age, Richard James was so isolated from contemporary musical trends that it still sounds very modern, very alien and timeless. Shorter and easier to get into than 'Vol 2' (you can listen to this all the way through in one sitting comfortably), and more consistently good than any of his solo albums, this makes a great starting-point for your Aphex Twin collection.
It's worth looking for the similar, slightly more polished 'Polygon Window' album as well.
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