Review Summary: Although not entirely accessible because of the repetition, it’s still one of the greatest electronic albums ever recorded.
It could only be predicted how much publicity and praise Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92
would receive in the future. The spine-chilling ambient patterns, thick percussions, and minor synthesizer effects were what painted it its picture; and all of that excelled. Today the album remains quintessential in the electronic field; and correctly so. Even though it may not be necessarily accessible because of the drastically simple melodies and non-interchangeable compositions, there’s still a meticulous work of art here. Selected Ambient Works 85-92
is not only Richard D. James’s most unsurpassed album to date, but his most innovative and charmingly creative.
The sound production on the LP is crystal clear and without warning, occasionally surprising. Played through a nice pair of headphones or even speakers, it will create such a sonic and mystifying atmosphere that is incredibly superior from the rest of Richard’s discography. For the entire album, it’s mostly all memorable; a lot of very catchy, emotional setups that are mottled, diverse, and best of all, inspirational for one’s work.
Richard D. James helps kick off the album with ‘Xtal’, a slow burning track that gradually increases with a simple yet emotionally gratifying 3-piece ambient chord section; that honestly, is perfect. Songs like ‘Pulsewidth’, which in complete opposite, is a happy, uplifting piece. The actual sound
of the track is untouchable; with the cheerful synthesizers and shaky percussions that make it easily one of the best on the album. Working your way down the near classic album, you are encountered with ‘Green Calx’, which could easily be mistaken for some Mega Man game or Final Fantasy game (maybe fighting one of the bosses???); and as well as that, it has a grisly and liquid-sounding synthesizer that plays a positive role in the track. ‘Ptolemy’ has the same rickety percussion and grimy synth layout as ‘Green Calx’ but with spastic chimes and bells; and ‘Delphium’ is a more danceable tune, with the stylized 4/4 beat and bouncing synthesizer.
The finally isn’t really worthwhile other than it being darker and shadowy; with the brisk yet violent rhythm/percussions and constantly pulsating yet slightly inaudible beat (it could easily be heard well with an expensive pair of headphones that is).
Overall, Selected Ambient Works 85-92
comes out as an acquired taste; not necessarily sound wise, but repetition wise. If you can’t digest very lengthy, spaced-out tunes that barely revolve, then this will not be your cup o’ tea. The album, without question, has remained extremely influential in ambient music altogether, and as of today, still is coded as one of the greatest ambient albums ever. There’s a definite sound of maturity here too; a lot of deep, emotional, ambient tunes with more planned out buildup/song structures which all in all, make this whole record truly incredible. James is a man that knows what he’s doing.