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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Aphex Twin

1992

Wikipedia

Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Rating

3.19

Votes

3159

Reviews

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2

Much of this sounds like the background to a shower sex scene. But like. In an outdoor shower so it’s romantic.

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1

although technically I listened, it was as if I didn't because I remember nothing.

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5

This is an wonderful album to listen to when you don't necessarily want to listen to music but don't want silence. I would like to have this entire album be the soundtrack of my life, I think. Just chill, wordless music that is upbeat.

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4

I love the story that these songs were recorded on homemade equipment when he was 14 and the sound quality is bad because his cat damaged the original cassette! Nice ambient pieces, the sampling is subtle, the hooks are catchy as they would need to be if you're going to build a whole song around them (I prefer 4-5 minutes vs 8-9!). It reminds me of a chill version of the techno that was coming out in the late 80s.

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1

I'm not into electronic music so this felt like being stuck in an endless loop of two notes. You get used to it, like the noise of an airplane engine on a 14 hour flight.

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5

Lovely great trippy swooshing noises. Less aggressive then a lot of his work. Beautiful stuff.

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5

Takes me way back when we used to sit in me mates treehouse and smoke stuff we shouldn't have. Glourios sounds and moods that take you somewhere else ambient as a masterpiece. Aphex is the king

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5

Absolutely love this. Sounds like its from the future and ancient at the same time. It's incredible he was 14 making some of these tracks

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4

I put this album on the big speakers in the other room while I worked on Friday. It was great background sound whilst I plugged away. It’s now Sunday night and I was prepared to mail in my *** rating. However, I decided to listen and skip around one last time before moving on to the next album on the list. Surprisingly, I did more listening than skipping. The beats are varied, present, but not in your face. I’ve dabbled in electronic/ambient/trance music before. I am quite impressed this came out in 1992. 1992 blows my mind because a lot of it sounds current and innovative for today.

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4

Is it true that Richard, the Aphex Twin guy is the spawn of productivity lovers David Allen and Stephen Covey? ----- The main goal of ambient music is to fade into the background and be forgotten. This album does a fine job of that. The only memorable things about Aphex Twin are the album covers which give me NIGHTMARES. The thought of being stoned out of my mind and floating through some warehouse rave with this guy spinning is really attractive (is that still a thing?), though these days, crossing things off my to-do list is just as fulfilling. Richard Marx -er Richard James, the freaky guy in the blue bikini, was ahead of his time, there are literally loads of playlists and channels on Spotify, XM, Soundcloud, etc. with titles like "deep meditation" to get shit done. Go ahead, turn this on and start powering through all the albums you still have yet to rate.

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4

This seminal album is by the OG of Electronica. There are some great hooks and melodies buried in these tracks and many of them have gone on to become classics. I think the title is misleading though as its more Electronica Lite rather than Ambient music

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4

Somehow I thought Aphex Twin was super heavy so I was not looking forward to this (I have a headache). But it's lovely and chill. Despite the title, none of the tracks sound like they could have come from the mid 80s. It's a super modern excursion into electronica that feels exactly like it would have shaken things up in 1992. Yes, it's another influential album and it's very much of its age, but it still holds up. This album makes me want to go and hang out in a park.

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4

Gosh, this is really good. I dig on some ambient tunes, both electro and otherwise. Metric Systems, Sarah Neufeld et al have really drunk from the Aphex fountain. This made me feel safe and at home, while taking me many places in space and time as well. Gotta love the history of these jams.

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3

This album is perfect to have on in the background whilst studying or working. Great lo-fi beats and sounds like something a 24/7 YouTube channel would be playing. Not sure if I can pick a best and worst, the whole album is pretty cohesive.

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3

A totally unexpected treat. I was expecting gloom and fug and got synapse-snapping electronics and good humour.

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3

Underwhelming, but good for programming. I've been told the album was historically significant for electronic music, but it wasn't that exciting by today's standards.

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1

What even is this? This is terrible. Boring and repetitious. I'll never listen to this on purpose again.

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1

No

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1

Awful and annoying

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1

Not my bag this I'm afraid, listened to it but had to skip some tracks. "Pulsewidth" is a good track and "I" appealed....a bit but not one for me I'm afraid.

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1

Boy, they weren't kidding when they put the word "ambient" in the title of this. It was on, there were beats, I absorbed it all and yet retained not a millisecond of any of it. I don't really know how to have an emotional response to music like this, and I don't really suspect anyone in Aphex Twin even set out to achieve that with this record. It's got ambient in the title! It's not supposed to engage anyone! Which makes it all the more baffling that some dude thinks this record is one of 1,000 best records of all time. OF ALL TIME.

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1

I mean it's literally ambient music - I don't get it. 2/10.

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5

always loved their work. reverbs with the universe

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5

First time listen. This blew me away.

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5

A personal fave! Love it.

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5

Easily, easily, easily one of the best albums ever made.

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5

Das steht sicher nicht umsonst in meinem Regal

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5

Very good sound. Ahead of its time

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5

The GOAT

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5

Great

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5

listen to them a lot. just really fucking interesting.

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5

Great ambient music

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5

Fucking sick as g

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5

I am in love with this album

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4

Great chilled out album

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4

Música ambiental, not bad!

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4

Very cool

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4

Just a perfect piece of music to accompany you through a foggy Amsterdam morning. Though you may not want to have such a morning every day.

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4

If you can dance to it, it's not ambient as far as I'm concerned. It's likely the title of this one is another troll by young Richard. It's a great strong collection of glitchy bangers and really good driving music

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4

Very good. I liked this a lot.

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4

Very very very very good electronica.

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4

This is mellow beats sounds that are good and not interruptive. I also have a soft spot for precocious musicians. Not too shabby for a recording damaged by the family cat's urine.

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4

Way better than I first expected and really picked up after the first couple of tracks. Great ambient music to work to. Not memorable but the context of the album marks it out as significant. Will listen again.

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4

Delivers on the name

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4

doop bloop doop bloop

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4

3.5

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4

11/16 Booop beeeeep, ticktick tiiIING, wrrraaaaooow WHOMP haaaaaAAAAAAAAH Standout Tracks: Xtal, Tha, Schottkey 7th Path, Hedphelym

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4

Отлично

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4

Just cool. It's ambient but rewards active listening. Electronic music with heart.

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4

fair enough - great background music for working.

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4

Some quite fun tracks on this album. Some recognisable as they've been used as the music for other songs as well. Doubting between 3 and 4 stars as it got quite heavy at the end and I didn't really want to continue listening. Giving it 4 stars because I see myself putting it on again.

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4

This is a classic in this genre, wouldn't make the list if it came out today but in the late 80s to make this kind of music using mostly analogue equipment is really impressive and it still sounds relevant and modern even now.

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4

So original for its time. Great instrumentals

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4

Love me an ambient album!! Always nice to have one of these on hand for work days. I'm surprised this was made in '92 because the tracks sound like the EDM hits I would listen to today. Must have been part of that inspiration. Green Calx was too techno-y

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4

A very listenable ambient album featuring lengthy spacey hypnotic grooves. It's psychedelic without being weird.I can imagine this working well as film music, running music, background music and naturally it would be great music to listen to with certain substances.

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4

selected ambient percs

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4

Ambient - it's a doddle eh? Some relaxed beats, a bass line and a few chords on the synth. Aphex Twin shows how difficult it is to make great 'ambient', if such a thing exists, by showing its all about the details. Without lyrics or vocals or anything like a verse/chorus stucture to grab the listener, these tracks are a masterclass in detail: detail in how each track unfolds in time, and the textures employed to keep simple elements always evolving.

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4

Great ambient tracks, smooth chillout background. Four stars!

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4

Very mellow

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4

Best Song: Ageispolis. Groovy and bloopy. Worst Song: Green Calx. Sounds a bit too much like a rave inside a malfunctioning office printer. Overall: It is excellent at what it aspires to be. This feels like the pinnacle of what "ambient" music can be. Lacks the busyness/aggression of some of Aphex Twin's other work. Great music to read or work to.

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4

The standout tracks just about overcome some horrible midi sounds.

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4

Audio zen

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4

<3

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4

Nice

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4

Really cool low key “background music”. Great for work or studying

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4

I am SO glad this popped up because I've been meaning to listen to Aphex Twin for the longest time, but I didn't really know where to start. Most of this was repetitive - ambient seems to be that. However, what really shined through were the moments where it didn't FEEL repetitive and it felt like getting lost in space. Now that was pretty neat.

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4

Loving this so far as I listen, groovy as heck. Ageispolis slaps hard Really enjoyed this album!

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4

Took me a lot of tries to make it through paying attention... a combination of it being a bit long and also ambient. Overall, an enjoyable trek through ambient electronica... definitely some that find their groove, while others are interesting.

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4

Not soppy ambient muzak, but interesting background music

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4

It's good, but it shouldn't have been included on the list over SAW II. But after omitting Mezzanine, I'm convinced these people don't understand electronic music at all.

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4

Not the easiest listen, but interesting and clearly influential. Definitely one to come back to in the future.

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4

Really clean, and surprised to find the sample for Ugly Boy in this piece. Really lacking something for the final star, but strong for a debut.

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4

Surprisingly good for not my usual cup of tea

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4

Sw4g

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4

Straddling a line between standing the test of time and having aged unfavourably, it’s place is certainly earned on this list

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4

Cheeeeeeelin

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3

Ihan makeeta kamaa läpi levyn. Hauska detalji ku huomasin, että yhestä biisistä oli Die Antwoord lainannu samplen.

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3

Ihan lepposaa menoa. Levyn ehdoton helmi on Agrispolis joka on tullut tutuksi aivan toisen bändin toimesta.

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3

Interessant disc de techno ambiental, que transcendeix el génere de l'electrònica i pot agradar a qualsevol amb interés i ment oberta

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3

Very back of background music

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3

September 2, 2021 Actually pretty good for working/studying. Don't think I'd listen otherwise.

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3

This is your fault, Brian Eno!! I saw it was Aphex Twin, and thought “oh didn’t they have that one really weird music video? I’ve heard of them.” Then I saw the title. More ambient music 😖 A lot of these ambient works sound like great background music for haunted houses and video games where you are figuring out creepy puzzles (Myst!) or getting lost in dungeons with who-knows-what lurking around the corner. And for those purposes, this would be really fitting. But to just sit and listen, for 2 hours and 36 minutes!? No thanks. There is definitely instrumental stuff that is good for background while you work or whatever. This isn't it. (The music video was for "Come to Daddy." It was messed up. That song sounds way more like Prodigy-type late 90s semi-popular drum and bass. But it's not good.) ------------------------- Ok, so all of the above nonsense was written while I was mistakenly listening to the wrong album. Some of it still applies. But not the haunted house/dungeon thing. This album of selected ambient works sounds totally different than Aphex Twin's other selected ambient works. This one has a beat. This is closer to dance music, while the other one is background music. There's some decent stuff here, but a couple that I didn't like. But it's really amazing how different this is from their other ambient album.

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3

meh

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3

I had higher expectations for this album. I really thought I'd love Aphex Twin, because I know some of his songs like; of course Alberto Balsalm, and I really love the vibe it gives me. This album not so much. Oh wait, does it pick up after Heliosphan? No... I find it too silly most times, and not as dark og abnormal as I would've hoped 3

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3

Not my kind of thing, but good background music and very chilled out. Sounds like the work of one man with a clear idea of what he wants to do

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3

I've listened to this album before, but not very closely. I played the album to provide some background music at work. During this second listen, I had to work at paying attention to each track, and appreciate what the music offers. I think I like the music, but based on my rating of the individual tracks this only gets 3 stars ("Green Calx" had some repeating sound effects that were too distracting). Even with only getting 3 stars, there is a chance I'll put this album on again.

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3

Good, but not my thing

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3

Fail so see what is “must hear”.

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3

Definately ambient. Some really good tracks balanced by some indifferent one. It was OK.

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3

Ambient

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3

Above average electronica = electronica = 2.5 = rounding up to be polite.

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3

Name def suits the music. Even though it was better than expected and likely influencial-ish, it still sounds just kinda like background music on a loading screen or something

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3

Solid 3

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3

This is fine. I think that the prevalence of loop software has made things like this seem much, much less special than they actually are. Kind of like how TikTok can make me look exactly like an old man but they couldn't erase Superman's mustache in that one movie.

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3

RIP Paul Walker

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3

This record is as overdressed as a bacon sandwich on a surfboard.

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3

I mean, it's pretty chill, but also nothing really stood out to me. Might be good to play during focused work tasks?

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3

One of Richard D James's more melodic affairs. Like it a lot...

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3

A bit of a monoculture, and pretty quickly I couldn’t stand the artificial drums, but overall - not too bad, even if Aphex Twin has better stuff out there.

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3

As Aphex Twin, Richard D. James lives on a diet of electronic pulses and seeds of inspiration. "Selected Ambient Works 85-92" is an odyssey of experiments in sound, some immediately lush and beautiful, others subtle and vague- all fully realised. It's hard to believe some of these tracks were first sketched out as early as 1985, when ambient music had barely taken off from the airport with Brian Eno. By the time "SAW" was released in 1992, electronic dance music had exploded onto the scene, in a kaleidoscope of rave, house and techno. In the meantime, James had built up a cohesive catalogue of work to cherry-pick from, and still ended up with a 74 minute album of very long tracks. A bit of self-editing here might have been to the album's benefit and made it more accessible still, but defining a whole sub-genre isn't bad going. In "Selected Ambient Works", Aphex Twin offers a more mellow side of electronic dance music, blending steely processed drum sounds with washes of synth to give voice to an emergent sub-genre of "ambient techno." The term seems much more apt than "intelligent dance music", an elitist label that James was right to reject. Instead, the "I" might be replaced with "introspective": this album is subtle, shape-shifting, moving through its tracks almost unnoticed. It's been on while I've been writing this and I've got completely lost in it. The more beat-driven material appeals to me a lot, even if the sounds are minimal and low-key. "Xtal" is a strong opening to set up stall, with a propulsive hi-hat cutting through calming washes of pads, with some gorgeous wordless vocals hovering faintly in the background. It's soothing, calming, yet restless and urgent. "Pulsewidth", "Ptolemy" and "Heliosphan" are similar, allowing the percussion to give a sense of dynamism and occasionally letting it cut out completely, for everything else to wash over. It's difficult to go much more in depth with the other individual tracks as I was very happy to surrender to them and let them soundtrack my day, giving a stronger aesthetic to work, relaxation and walking. It's easy to imagine how the album might have seeped into its fans' daily lives in the same way, becoming part of their landscape. It makes the early 90s seem like a utopia of listeners, riding the wave of fancy new portable music players and headphones, allowing James' "Ambient Works" to soundtrack their travels, their towns and cities, their late nights alone.

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3

good but not my thing

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3

I couldn't really get into the ambiance of it all.

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3

Never heard of them before. Not bad. Interesting catchy tunes. Some are a bit too weird. Middle of the road electronic sounds.

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3

Didn't hate this as much as I thought I would, ha. It wouldn't be on regular rotation but I may go back to it at some point.

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3

I enjoyed this more than I thought j would, as it's not a genre I naturally gravitate to. However, it's perfect music to have playing in the background whilst cracking on with some work. I tuned in an out, which would normally be a bad thing. But it seems like an acceptable response to this album. You don't need to be paying attention. Just subconsciously groove along

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3

Low-fi hip hop beats to chill and study to

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3

Solid casual beats, but I’m too angry to listen to this. Great for work.

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3

Ronseal. Ambient techno. Pleasant background music. Not something that demands attention, but a good album to review documents to and certainly a success under its own terms. Green Calx is a bit Pigeon Street. 3.5/5.

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3

A decent album to work to, but can’t imagine when else I’d put it on

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3

Very ambient. So ambient, I forgot I was listening to it. While not my style, good album. 3/5.

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3

Much less melodically driven than other AT works, dwells more in ethereal soundscapes and ideas than grounded song structures. This works intermittently throughout the album - the highs are enjoyable, but other tracks tend to fade into the background due to repetition or lack of meaningful melodic content.

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3

3. pleasant background ambient music. Not as good as what I'd usually put on, but still good.

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3

Interesting background music - which I guess is all you can ask from Ambient music

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3

Me gusta Aphex Twin lo he escuchado bastante. Y aunque este no es su mejor disco tiene algunos temas buenos. Es más o menos tranquilo así que no puedes equivocarte si quieres algo de electrónica suave.

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3

The background music of the old mobile game "Smash Hit", where you destroy triangle shaped crystals with metal balls. That bland music that is played in a seminar venue when the seminar has not yet started. A background music for exhibition arts, or a smartphone screensaver. You know, the type of show that only consists of lines and shapes. Elevator music but for airports. This is apparently ambient techno. IDM (EDM but with I for "intelligent", perhaps because it makes you feel smarter, or whatever. Fun Fact: Aphex Twin himself hates that term). It's a decent background music when working or doing homeworks. That's what this 70 minute whopper is. An interesting background music. Nothing more, nothing less.

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3

Nice background noise for working.

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3

Had me dancing a bit on my own in my room.

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3

ambient, background, fine but not music I'm seeking out

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3

Great in the background, but lackluster in the foreground more times than not. So it goes with ambient, I suppose.

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3

De lo que ha tocado de electrónica, lo más digerible y utilizable para mí. No se pone pretencioso, no es taaaaaaan repetitivo y no tiene cantos encima. Por otro lado, hora y cuarto de esto, tampoco me dio ganas de darle otra vuelta.

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3

Cest ambient comme le titre le dit. 1h15 de musique d’ambiance… top 1001 ok peut etre pour ce style. Potentiel de reecoute tres grand dans un loundge ? 3.25

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3

Música ambiental electrónica. Agradable, pero ni fu ni fa.

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3

Música electrónica relajante. Buena para tener de fondo

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3

Like a soundtrack to nothingness

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3

Interesting and the name definitely fits. I can see how this is experimental and could inspire other ideas.

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3

Not my kind of thing, but good background music and very chilled out. Sounds like the work of one man with a clear idea of what he wants to do

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2

I'd give it a 1 but it's not as bad as that jazz album

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2

I don't think best-ofs should be in the list. I don't know what to expect with this given it's supposedly ambient, but the other Aphex Twin I've heard is scungy UK techno. I'm semi-open-minded about this. Ready to enjoy if needed, but probably going to get the shits at it. Yeah about halfway through now and I'm over it. WAY too fucking long (75min), which I guess is in line with the scungy UK techno tradition of overstaying its welcome. It's ok to have on in the background I guess, but it's not really ambient in the sense I wanted. It's still mostly very clearly house music, just a bit more subdued. Maybe if I was still 19, maybe if I was high on MDMA, maybe I'd get into it then. But I'm not, so it's a 2/5.

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2

Didn't age quite as well as it could have. I generally like Electronica though

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2

Not my cup of tea

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2

It's pretty good but I do prefer my synthesizers when they are serving up some melody and some traditional song structures. Though the sounds from this album are gorgeous in spots, the music doesn't connect 2.5 stars

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2

I find ambient, electronic music slightly less annoying than other electronic music.

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2

This is more stressful ambient music. Could be fine in small doses, or useful in sci fi game or movie soundtracks, but a hell-nah from me otherwise.

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2

Непонравилось

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2

Not my type

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2

Ekki leiðinlegt þannig séð, en rennur (eðli stefnunnar samkvæmt) saman í einn graut í hausnum á mér. Sá ekki appealið við þetta í gamla dag og sé það ekki núna.

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2

29th December 2021 Listened on my headphones whilst working in the morning of the 30th before me and jen went down to Lewes to look at a house! Great for background music while working, I can appreciate but don't enjoy dance music.

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2

More mellow than the Aphex Twin I thought I (vaguely) knew. Inoffensive, and some of it's very pretty (Xtal & Heliosphan stood out), but I can only really imagine playing the whole album again as background music. If it came out today (and it sounds like it could've done) it'd be a 2, but 30 years ago it must've been pretty revolutionary, so am considering a 3 for impact. Let's say 2.5.

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2

While I truly admire how good the album sounds for just being made at home and not in a proper studio, I'm not a fan of house music at all, and without any semblance of a catchy melody or words to sing along with, I struggle to keep my attention on the music.

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2

I know Aphex Twin for two things. First for his music videos which are the stuff of nightmares. Secondly for making music that doesn't exactly make you want to tap your toes.

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2

First time listening. I think my expectations were too high for this album. The tracks felt transient - subtly emotive whilst listening, then immediately forgettable.

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2

Very calming.

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2

From mellow somewhat relaxing background music to annoying pins pops and buzzes. Sometimes I enjoyed it or at least didn't hate it

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2

Beetje zouteloos.

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2

Title says it all

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2

Neeh wel grappig maar te electronisch

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2

It's pretty good but I do prefer my synthesizers when they are serving up some melody and some traditional song structures. Though the sounds from this album are gorgeous in spots, the music doesn't connect 2.5 stars

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2

It’s quite dull but also oddly difficult to listen to. And I really wanted to like this as well.

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2

Glad I was working while listening because I would of fell asleep.

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2

Ambient weird

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2

Nice chillout muzak, some tracks get lost in themselves and despite a valiant effort the limitations of the genre quickly become clear. There's only so much emotion and soul that can be channeled through repetitive loops and synth sounds.

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2

I'm not sure if this is a collection or what, but if it is, why did I have to listen to five Bob Marley albums?

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2

Ambient House. You can keep it. Nothing to distinguish it from one track to the next. Best track: N/A

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2

This album stressed me out

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2

Not interesting ambient. There's a formula and he follows it well, I suppose.

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1

non

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1

Perfect album it you don’t want to actually listen to anything and simply have some music on in the background.

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1

#ookniksaan

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1

Volgens mij zijn ze vergeten een selectie te maken. Het eerste nummer duurde al 7 jaar.

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1

No.

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1

OH MY GOD, 1001 ALBUMS GENERATOR, WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME? This is nonsense of the highest degree. I just forced my way through Nightmares on Wax, and this is what you serve up next.?! Give me a break that this is "before you die" critical listening. Music for a rave is great for ravers the same way that an album of dogs barking is great for dogs - I am neither, and am uninterested in both. No.

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1

This was dumb. I mean, kudos for doing this before GarageBand came out and made it so much easier - but I just can't bring myself to care.

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