Album Review

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Publicity still for Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Aphex Twin
Selected Ambient Works 85-92
4 out of 5


Long before he became associated with the nihilistic drum n' bass of "Come to Daddy," Richard D. James (a.k.a. Aphex Twin) was a pioneer of what would become known as "intelligent" dance music. His critically lauded Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is, along with the Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld and Global Communication's 76:14, one of the preeminent signposts of early-'90s ambient techno. The album begins with the ethereal female coos and soft breakbeats of "Xtal," and flawlessly segues into the muted thump and crisp pitter-patter of "Tha," a track imbued with the echo of distant conversation. Diffusive synth chords gush through each song, from the congested aural space of the aptly titled "Hedphelym" to the bass-heavy "Ageispolis." Most striking is James's pop sensibility, apparent in the concise momentum of "Pulsewidth" and the utterly infectious "Ptolemy." Influenced by post-classical composers like Philip Glass and Kraftwerk, James created a collection of minimalist house more refined than anything that has come before or after.

Label: Warp Release date: November 2, 2002

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