[1992] Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85–92



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. The end result - the waltz-like "Xtal," the exultant "Pulsewidth," the eerie "Hedphelym," the blissfully wincing "Ageispolis," the flight above- and underground of "Green Calx," and so on, and so on, and so on. Electronica is often accused of being emotionless, and more often than not rightly so, but Selected Ambient Works is anything but that. This is beautifully emotional music; it's the music your subconscious plays in your sleep. It's music that for all its simplicity has a richer vocabulary than language.
I find myself at a loss for words. I don't want to use this as an opportunity to practice my adjectives; I only want to get you to purchase this record. Aphex Twin's achievement was aped by many much-touted "electronic wizards," most of whom fancy themselves musical geniuses because they can slap together a beat and a bassline on their computer in their parents' basement, but of course bettered by none of them. James himself never did (though he came close in some later songs such as "On"). Then again, it might not even be possible.



Genre: Ambient, Techno, IDM
Quality: FLAC

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