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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like being wrapped up warm on a winter's day
I first came across Selected Ambient Works when rooting through a box of random tapes I found under the bed in my first student houseshare. It was a grim October and I was living in a house on the cliffs of Rottingdean near Brighton, miles from campus and my friends, and I was feeling rather lonely. When I played this album, it was like my mind was being hugged and bought...
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by Ash

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4 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambient with a rickety zimmer frame
I've only recently stumbled into the Ambient/Electronica genre after collecting Global Communication's 76:14, Aphex Twin's 26 mixes for Cash, Board's of Canada and Four Tet's Everything Ecstatic to name a few. I've been reading up on a lot of the masters of this genre to try and find out where to go next and this album has had one of the best reviews out of everyhting...
Published on 28 May 2006 by Phill


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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like being wrapped up warm on a winter's day, 17 Jan 2011
By 
Ash (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (Audio CD)
I first came across Selected Ambient Works when rooting through a box of random tapes I found under the bed in my first student houseshare. It was a grim October and I was living in a house on the cliffs of Rottingdean near Brighton, miles from campus and my friends, and I was feeling rather lonely. When I played this album, it was like my mind was being hugged and bought a pint.
From the opening synths and gentle boom of Xtal, Ambient Works is a cosy duvet on a bleak February morning, a Mars Bar after swimming, a snow-covered hill on a sunny day - full of soothing melodies and quiet spaces.
Now, 13 years later, I still put it on when I can't sleep, or when I feel cold or sad, and it greets me like an old friend. I played the tape til it broke and had to buy the CD. I was very much a rock fan when I came across this album, but it introduced me to a side of electronica I hadn't previously been aware of - the after-party, the come down, the morning after, the walk in the park with your headphones on.
Apparently it was massively influential and I suppose that is one reason for picking up this piece of history. But a far greater reason is the timeless beauty of the music. Buy it, love it forever.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genreless & timeless, 3 Mar 2005
By 
Simon J. Whight "fourfourfun" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I feel like I have an affinity with this album. I remember back in younger days sitting in my bedroom, twisting up samples, crafting my own little electronic ditties on my wee little A500. I stuck some of them down to tape, entered some furious breakbeats as my GCSE Music compositions and was quite chufty at getting my pass mark. When I stick this on, it makes me think of those days. Selected Ambient Works is a collection of Aphex's original electronic tweakings from 85-92, composed on bits of electronics he had wired together himself and generally had fun with! Add to this the fact that the entire CD has been mastered from tape in the first place and you've got a collection of works that sounds really special to listen to, almost as if you've stumbled across some rarities in a dusty attic somewhere!
I've read that the original tape suffered a bit of a mangling job at the paws of a cat, and you can tell from the slightly wavering treble of Schottkey 7th Path and the ever present hiss that this is far from the height of ultra slick digital mastering. All of this adds to the charm of this collection, the almost otherworldly simple crystalline melodies and simple electronic beats and breaks. The music doesn't fit to any real existing musical template or structure aside from being music that is electronic. Little house beats here, breakbeats there but nothing else sounds like it. The pieces are oh so simple but oh so effective, instantly accessible and instantly gratifying. I love sticking Xtal and Pulsewidth on to give me a bit of bounce in the day, and the aforementioned Schottkey 7th Path has gorgeous orchestral and almost churchlike synths partnered with pitterpattering breaks.
This is about as individual a CD as you can get nowadays, people will look back at this as a classic in the creation of the electronic music movement. I've seen if find fans with many people, even a hardcore ABBA fan I know loves this CD! Its not got the sophisticated digital wizardry of Aphex's later works or indeed of the artists that the Warp label spawns nowadays, but for that reason it is a special collection of works. Nothing will ever sound as innovative as this did and nothing will ever match the simplicity of this collections genius.
If you're new to Aphex and are searching out his other works, grab this ... its special.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something truly different, 30 Dec 2006
Though I like most kinds of music this album was something that made me sit up & take notice. So refreshingly different to what I've heard before. The name Aphex Twin first came to my attention on hearing a track (I can't remember which) on the radio. I searched & found this cd, one I never tire of listening to. The first track, Xtal, is a particular favourite. The gorgeous sound of a soft female voice flows through so beautifully. Each of the remaining tracks is different to the others. All in all a feast for the senses but be prepared for something different as some tracks may take getting some used to. I highly recommend every one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant repress!, 4 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. J. Birkett "Birkett" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I couldn't believe my luck when I saw this on Amazon. The option to Pre-Order a brand new repress of Selected Ambient works 85-92! This is one of Aphex Twin's most acclaimed albums and it is a brilliant vinyl to collect while you have the chance. It is a MUST HAVE for any Aphex Twin fan. The songs feature a range of beautiful analogue/synth sounds that are both relaxing and at times exciting. The high quality standard of the tracks continues throughout, as some people disagree with when talking about Selected Ambient Works Volume 2. My personal favourites on this album include Xtal, Heliosphan and Green Calx. It is brilliant that this has been repressed and makes me ask, will Aphex Twin come out of his shell again soon and release more of his eagerly awaited albums? Some sources suggest he has 6-10 albums ready to release but this cannot be for sure. If you want to get more vinyls of his, be sure to get "Richard D. James" and "...I care because you do". Maybe even give Windowlicker and Come to daddy a try while they are on Amazon at a reasonable price!

If I had to criticise anything about the product I'd say that the packaging material is a LITTLE flimsy. However the original artwork makes up for it :)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal favorite, 14 Jan 2006
By 
Robot Overlord (floating somewhere...) - See all my reviews
I bought this record at least a year after Selected Ambient works II, in that mood of methodically harvesting every CD an artist has released, and I think I this record is the best of them. It’s easier on the ears than Richard D James, shorter that SAW II, mellower and warmer, and containing sounds which vary from the timeless to the pleasantly retro - a list of cozy, crackly places interspersed with desolate, rainy ones, like stepping out of a warm house into a darkened carpark...
You get the pleasant feeling of having discovered something a bit special which you wern’t perhaps meant to find, as though the tapes had lain collecting dust in a box in the guy's attic - it's quite “bedroom,” but interestingly so - trippy and crackly as though taken from vinyl and recorded using analogue kit... Buy without hesitation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my first and best, 11 Jan 2005
By 
Ian "sKiT_" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This was the first dance CD i ever listened to and it still sounds as fresh as today. This is before afx went all 'f***ing scary' as one of my friends said to me when lsitening to drukqs. The tunes on here are perfect for a chill out after a rave or just to read to, not dance music, but if you've got some good bass equipment this would sound amazng and would make it dancable. The more you listen the more the depth of each track reveals itself. true master craftsmanship!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most perfect electronic ambient record of all time., 22 April 2008
This review is from: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (Audio CD)
...yes...easily....15 years on and you still hear snatches of this iconic album in everything electronic. Boy Genius Richard D James created the most perfect, gentle, epic (and sometimes quietly agressive) brooding electronica. To say this album is iconic is an understatement. If you're reading this review and you don't think you're aware of this record - you're wrong...or you've been hiding away from all music and media for the last 15 years - it's easily one of the most important electronic albums of all time (ranking amongst giants such as Jean Michelle Jarr - The Art of Noise - hell...even the prodigy admit to being influenced by aphex twin)

This is simply a 'perfect' album. in 100 years you could argue that people will mention Richard D James in the same breath as Bach....that sounds like a serious overstatement...but buy this record RIGHT NOW and you'll understand why. I hate the word genius...but this is genuinely genius. (and that's a habit that Mr Richard D James has seldom broken)

BUY THIS RECORD!!! It will genuinely enhance your life...and that's not a joke.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sculptor Unsure of his Subject, 7 May 2013
By 
Mr. A. Pomeroy (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is a mixed bag, and it suffers in comparison to Vol 2, but it's still one of my favourite albums. It starts off really strong and then runs out of steam quickly, but it's a great start. Xtal is a masterpiece, and so was the decision to put it at the start of the album. It colours the rest of the record and makes the album seem more coherent than it is. For me though the real highlight is Tha, which I could listen to all day. It's hypnotic and really simple - a pop-pop-pop pulsebeat with distant voices and a mutating bassline - but it's incredibly evocative and still sounds like walking through a neon-lit city at night. I'm sure the first two tracks were very influential on the British electronic music scene thereafter and they would make for a killer 12". Warp Records in particular seemed to transform from a bleepy techno label into something more diverse at around the time this album came out (which, surprisingly, wasn't released on Warp).

Vol 2 was consistently solid all the way through, but Vol 1 gradually winds down as it goes on. Pulsewidth, track three, just about sums it up; great start, descends into noodling, never develops. It reminds me of Black Dog's Bytes, in the sense that each track has one good idea, but the idea tends to just repeat without being developed. Tha is like that, but it has a special magic that works; there's just enough happening for it to not be boring. Same with Delphium, which sets up a groove and sails with it. Or Schottkey 7th Path, which goes one better by setting up a *mood*.

Yeah, I know the album has "ambient" on the cover, but I suspect that was just a hedge Mr Twin used to deflect criticism. It's a collection of odds and sods he had lying around in his studio. There's nothing ambient about Green Calx, which is closer to hardcore techno, and Ptolemy sounds like a Madonna instrumental with some reverb thrown in. It goes on too long. Much the same is true of Actum, which has some electric piano noodling, and (frustratingly, because it has a well-chosen sample) We Are the Music Makers, an uncharacteristically jolly track that could have been the high score music from a car racing computer game of the period. Or Heliosphan, which has a fantastic, epic first minute that eventually goes nowhere. The Richard James that emerged a few years later could have really done something with this raw material, and to be fair he was only fifteen or so in 1985. I'm a few year younger than him, what was I doing in the early 1990s? Not a great deal.

Production-wise it seems as if Mr Twin had a reverb unit but no way of using effects sends, so *everything* is swamped in reverb or there are no effects at all. I have an earlier CD release. It was apparently mastered from a bunch of cassette tapes and sounds it. There's no high-end and the bass on Ageispolis probably wasn't meant to sound like that. There are supposedly tape chewing noises here and there, although apart from a couple of stutters in Actum I can't heard them. I don't know what kind of remastering has been done to the most recent reissue. There was one more track, Soit-PP, that came out at around the same time and has a similar sound but was never included on the album, and it's not included on this either (no great loss - it's a bit naff to be honest). SARCASM Thank the lord they've got rid of that silly old Aphex Twin logo and replaced it with a prancing horse, END SARCASM.

Based on what I've read, Mr Twin had an instinctive approach to composition; he created until he came up with something that set his mind in motion, like a sculptor unsure of his subject. I'm not sure if that explains the appeal of his music. With a few poor choices 85-92 could have been a really poor-quality demo tape from a musical dunce who didn't get techno and had nowhere near enough equipment to rival Brian Eno, and yet it's evocative. I can remember the first time I heard it, a few years after The Orb and The Future Sound of London had taken ambient into the charts with a much slicker sound. It was one of those albums that people read about before listening - even back then - and it sounded ancient to my ears, with its spartan electronic production and crackly noises. And yet it stuck with me because there was something pure about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recommended edition of an indispensable album, 1 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I won't say much about the music itself, other than the fact that two+ decades haven't diminished its brilliance; still an essential title in any electronic music collection. What I will try to review, however, is the 2013 vinyl edition that I purchased from Amazon UK. Since this is an official reissue, you will get the original iconic artwork on the cover, and not that hideous trashy-3D-horse image that appeared on a bootleg release from a few years back. The cover is a bit flimsy and not a gatefold, but from what I gather this was also the case with the first pressing. The record itself is well pressed, on two 150g slabs of vinyl, with no audible surface noise. Though there's no info on whether the same stamper from the last official (remastered) reissue in 2006 was used or not, the sound quality is great, with a quite decent dynamic range. (Of course, the fact that this album is practically a collection of home recordings--and, if AllMusic's story is to be believed, one that survived maulings by a cat--should already warn you not to expect an audiophile-level of sound quality. All in all, this is a highly recommended edition of an indispensable album. Get it before it goes out of print (again).
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of the genre..., 11 Mar 2008
By 
Robster (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (Audio CD)
If you don't have this incredible record, buy it immediately.

If you're at all into electronica/IDM/Techno, this is one of the defining records of the genre, and one you'll come back to again and again.

Track after track of gorgeous, melodic, beat inspired electronica. Largely recorded onto cassette, giving it an intimate, analog feel, this is intelligent techno at it's very best and still stands as RDJ's best album.

One of my favourite records of all-time...
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Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin (Audio CD - 2009)
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