58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2005
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2013
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 :)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2006
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2005
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2012
I've been quite a casual enthusiast of electronic music for some time, instrumental music in general, as well as music that challenges my preconceptions. I finally became bored of the general level of idiocy of modern music and started to listen to my Leftfield albums again, as well as classical music, and found a new love for the electronic, instrumental sound. I discovered this album via youtube, liked every single track and finally bought it, while discovering Squarepusher and Autechre. To think it was composed when I was a child is quite astounding; its sound is a good five years ahead of anything else of the time, but innovation alone is not enough for a five star review: the technical quality of the compositions draws attention; I can listen to many of these tracks repeatedly, and discern another feeling or quality they evoke amongst their layers. This has always been the advantage of instrumental music; there are no lyrics to anchor feelings or thoughts to the composition, and so we can interpret it as a pure art form.
I concede that some aspects may be too minimalist for some, but that is just down to unfamiliarity with anything challenging. After enduring years of the hard-sell, in-your-face dance-rock of Pendulum et al, then hearing the unsettling but entrancing Window Licker by this virtuoso, I was sent straight here and later artists of the same tradition. It is also startling that these pieces were composed around the time of the Stock-Aitken-Waterman empire's first hits. A monument to electronic music, and the artist versus mediocrity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Although I am a fan of electronic music this is a side of electronica I am not very experience with. Having been weaned on the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Thunderdome before veering into softer territory with UNKLE I have only recently started working my way through the likes of Aphex Twin and FSOL.
I am listening to this album through my headphones as I type this and it is, as previous reviewers have said, a very atmospheric piece that puts one in a certain mood. What I find staggering is, beyond the emotive nature of this work, is that it dates back to 85-92. I am amazed as it does not sound dated at all, surely the stamp of something that is more than of its own moment in time. All good books are like that, timeless and somehow always contemporary, I have a feeling the music made by Aphex Twin will one day be viewed this way.
The music is mainly instrumental swoops and pans with some tight and warm bass. The acid grooves also sweep into the mix. All told this is ambient/electronica at its best.
An UNKLE song has the famous soundbite about listening with your heapdhones in the dark. I think this is the perfect music for that and is the ideal comedown from a stressful day at the office.
Beautiful, with a heart tinged with melancholy and morning-after regret.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2014
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).
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2008
...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.