Aphex Twin
Selected Ambient Works 85-92



by br3ad_man USER (164 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 1485 replies

Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Techno. Like Country, Rap and Pop, Techno is one of those genres that is often just not given a chance. Often passed off as repetive beats and electronic noises, not many people have heard the true talents of Techno or Ambient Techno, the leader of these artists being Aphex Twin.

Aphex Twin, born in 1971, released his first album, "Selected Ambient Works 85-92". Sounding like absolutely nothing before it, "Selected Ambient Works" was a revolution. It shows no influences or sounds like anything that came before it.

The overall sound of the album is rather thin. There is no lyrics on it, save for one sampled line on the song "We are the music makers". Another factor, is that the sound quality of this album is rather poor, it was recorded directly to cassette and reportedly overcame the attacks of a cat. Some of the tracks on this album were recorded when Aphex Twin was only 15. Listen to this album and you will understand that that is an amazing feat in anyone's book. Amazingly, many of the instruments and sounds used on this album were actually built by Aphex Twin himself.

As stated previously, this album is a very thin and sparse sounding record. Some of the stuff on here is rather scary or creepy, reminiscent of seedy bars in futuristic movies. In the words of Buddyhead records, Aphex Twin writes "the music that is played in Martian titty bars". While that is a rather rude way of putting it, they are right on the money with that statement.

Xtal - One of the best songs this album has to offer and also one of the best ambient songs ever recorded. The song starts out with a cymbal loop with some random vocal samples. The song builds up until one of the most goosebump inducing musical moments happens. A synth comes in with a 3 chord progression, one of the simplest things possible, but it works better than anything else would. A beautiful song. My personal favourite off this album, if just for the three chord synth part.

Tha - This song conveys a really strange mood that's hard to describe. It just induces a wierd feeling. The song revolves around some bass work and strange percussion samples with some wierd effects added to the mix. It leaves a strange feeling of emptiness that's hard to describe. It's a good song. The biggest problem is that it goes for so long (nearly 10 minutes).

Pulsewidth - The song starts with a cool riff type thing and builds with many sounds layered around the riff. Some really cool sounding effects also come in later which are cool. The bass and drums are coolest though, the bass has a great little electronic effect on it and the drum beat is just plain cool.

Ageispolis - A cool little riff again with a much slightly darker mood than "Pulsewidth" or "Xtal". It's an excellent song, much like the previous song, yet somehow totally different. The main difference is that the mood is much darker. Great song.

Green Calx - This song is very video game sounding. The main riff type thing of it is amazing, the sound of it is just wonderful. The the background synths are also really good. Then some popping sounds come in and they sound a lot like some early to mid 90s video game soundtracks. This song is very reminiscent of some levels on the Sonic The Hedgehog games, the soundtracks seem to have been influenced by this song. One cool thing in this song is an elevator type sound later in the song which is rather "noisy". Excellent stuff.

Heliospan - A very keyboard based song. The starting drum loops are amazing as well as the opening synths. But the best part of this song is the piano riff in it. It simply sounds amazing. There are lots of nice cool little clicky sounds in the song that all add to it in their own way. This is one of the album's best tracks, simply wonderful.

We Are The Music Makers - Starts out with a bass riff and then plays the only lyric on this album. It says "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams". Very Matrix sounding. The effects in this song all add to it to create a wonderful sound. The riff over the top is very pretty as well. Another of the album's best songs, the only problem is that it's a bit too long.

Schotkey 7th Path - Probably the best song on the album. The main riff type thing is brilliant and theres all of theres lovely little effects and crashing noises behind it that add so much to it. The mood of it is absolutely perfect, quite negative while being really nice as well. One of the best instrumental ambient pieces of music ever written. Simply brilliant.

Ptolemy - A happier song, much like "Green Calx" or "Heliospan". The effects and drumming are great and the song has some nice effects and riffs. The only problem (again) is that it's a bit too long and tends to drag a little bit. Oh well, still a great song and it only drags if you aren't in the mood to listen to it.

Hedphelym - A much darker song that the last one. It's very brilliant, the drum loops are great at the start and then all the synths come in with some effects providing the main riff. It also has an "ump ump ump ump" type sond that is often associated with techno. There are also some amazing riffs and effects in this. One of the albums great moments. Brilliant song.

Delphium - The hi hat loops in this song are brilliant. Some really cool electronic riffs and loops are also in this song. It also sounds like there is some latin percussion happening in this song, which is very nice sounding. Another nice little addition is a tambourine which you probably wouldn't normally notice but it would show if it wasn't there. The synths in this song are by far the best part. Great song with some of the best effects so far on the album.

Actium - By now, the best parts of the album are over, but that's not to say that these songs aren't great too. The bass work at the start of the song is really nice and the gradual build up is very excellent. The coolest part of this song is the main riff from the keyboard, very nice. The whole song overall is very, very good, only problem is that it drags out a little bit.

I - One of the best moments of the album. Purely an ambient synth in this track, the shortest of them all, clocking in at just 1:33. The synth just sounds beautiful, one of the best sounds on the cd. The perfect album closer.

This is the defining album of Ambient music. A wonderful masterpiece, although it's not really designed for you to sit there and concentrate on it. Instead, it makes the perfect soundtrack to anything you are doing whether it be reading, sleeping, gaming or anything else, this album is brilliant. If some of the songs didn't drag this album would be just about close to perfection.

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user ratings (2068)
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jtswope (5)
Selected Ambient Works 85-92 explores the unknown depths of electronic music with a diversity of sty...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 4th 2004


Album Rating: 4.5

Sounds awesome, great review bread!

September 4th 2004


Good review man, thanks.

September 4th 2004


No problems

Tangy zizzle
September 5th 2004


[QUOTE=Liberi Fatali]Great review for a great album, I've been looking for this album for ages. Aphex Twin is one of the best band/artists/Dj's that have come out of Australia in a long time.[/QUOTE]

Uhhh, I don't think Aphex twin is australian. British methinks.

September 5th 2004


I thought he was like German or something...

September 5th 2004


Grew up in Cornwall, I think.

September 5th 2004


Yep, i think he's from Cornwall. He also owns a tank which he likes to drive through his backyard.

Good review.
This is not my favorite album of his, but it's quite good. And given the fact that he was so young when he made it and the fact that he makes many of his own instruments, it's brilliant.

September 5th 2004


I really haven't heard much about Aphex Twin, which was introduced to me by my friend last year. I'll definitely check him out.

September 6th 2004


[QUOTE=sum1soiledMyBongos]Yep, i think he's from Cornwall. He also owns a tank which he likes to drive through his backyard.



September 6th 2004


He's Richard James, bitch!


September 6th 2004


:lol: Don't apologise, that was great.

/easily amused

October 1st 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

:lol: that was good.

i must get this album. apparently he played at Glastonbury, but under a different name? anyone got anything on that?

October 2nd 2004


He was at Big Day Out last year as Aphex Twin :confused:

December 5th 2004


He also goes by AFX sometimes. Aphex Twin's cool enough a name though, I dunno why he has multiple names.

December 5th 2004


This album is otherworldy brilliant. Definately buy this, if you haven't already.

talk show host
December 5th 2004


Album Rating: 4.0

I keep meaning to get this album, but nowhere near me seems to sell it at a remotely-reasonable price.

Great review though. You've renewed my enthusiasm in finding it. How would you say it compares to Ambient Works Vol. II, because I hear they're quite disimilar records...

December 5th 2004


I almost bought this cd a month ago. I didn't know if it was decent or not, but now I regret not getting it.
according to your review, it's incredibly good

December 5th 2004


This is a great album but I prefer the other Ambient works to be honest.

December 5th 2004


[QUOTE=Toozey]This is a great album but I prefer the other Ambient works to be honest.[/QUOTE]
You stole this from my computer :mad:

Yeah, it's a pretty awesome record to come down to. That's when i mostly listen to it. Good review!

December 5th 2004


awesome review... funny how you gave a song a 3.8 rating though. Love Aphex Twin, have yet to hear this album though. Techno isn't bad at all if you realize what it's trying to accomplish.

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