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

Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Aphex Twin

1992

Buy At Rough Trade
Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Album Summary

Selected Ambient Works 85–92 is the debut studio album by Aphex Twin, the pseudonym of British electronic musician Richard D. James. It was released on 9 November 1992 through Apollo Records, a subsidiary of Belgian label R&S Records. The album consists of ambient techno tracks recorded onto cassette reputedly dating as far back as 1985, when James was thirteen to fourteen years old. An analogue remaster of the album was released in 2006, followed by a digital remaster in 2008. Upon its release, Selected Ambient Works 85–92 received widespread acclaim. James followed up the album in 1994 with the more traditionally ambient Selected Ambient Works Volume II. In 2012, it was named the greatest album of the 1990s by Fact. It entered the UK Dance Albums Chart at number 30 after the release of Aphex Twin's 2014 album Syro.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.21

Votes

11438

Genres

  • Electronica

Reviews

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Mon Sep 20 2021
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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Mon Sep 20 2021
1

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

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Tue Sep 21 2021
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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Tue Nov 30 2021
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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Thu Oct 28 2021
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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Fri Jun 10 2022
5

Although I have owned two Aphex Twin albums in the past (his more raucous, jungle-inflected stuff), to be honest Aphex Twin is an artist I have found easier to admire than like unquestionly. The story of Aphex Twin fascinates, partly due to Richard D. James' gleeful mythomania. Among his claims include sleeping 2 hours a night, gaining musical inspiration from lucid dreaming, scratching sandpaper instead of records, owning a tank (apparently, he actually owns an armoured car), living in a bank vault, purchasing the Michael Faraday Memorial, playing gigs in people's living rooms, and being named after a stillborn older brother. One of these legends is that this album assembles tracks he had lain down since the age of 14 on his ZX Spectrum, hence the timeframe indicated on the title. But is the music as interesting as the lore? The adjectives Aphex Twin generates seem impressive to some: experimental, challenging, innovative, unique, uncompromising. To multitudes, those terms inspire despair rather than intrigue. It appears tailor-made to accompany an Adam Curtis montage or Chris Morris' more surreal excursions; again, that thought will cause some to weep. But I am a sturdier figure. I chew up supposedly formidable works as if they were made by Wrigleys. Over this week, I have listened to Selected Ambient Works 85-92 thrice, and yes, it conjures those dread phrases "rewards repeated listenings" and "on its own terms". On the first occasion, which was not part of the reviewing process, I was, like I suspect many others would be, a trifle bored. It's an hour of ambient electronic dance music ca. 1985-1992. It sounds like an hour of ambient electronic dance music ca. 1985-1992. It didn't sound unpleasant, but unengaging and meandering. So, I continued with my assumption that Aphex Twin was not that embraceable. The second time, after the generator presented it, I found it much more alluring. The ambient nature of the album clicked, and I thought myself foolish for my prior dismissal. The third time, whilst writing this, I focused more the textures of individual tracks, and I was oft reminded of a group I adore, PiL (just checked, and the album does sample PiL's Fodderstompf). Like PiL's early work, the iciness may lead even those who appreciate difficult music to have their misgivings, but I'm not one of them. So yes, I like Aphex Twin, and I like this album a lot. By the by, Fact magazine (no, I haven't heard of it either) named this as the greatest album of the 90s. Even though this is an excellent album, can you think of a more pretentious choice?

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Wed Nov 24 2021
5

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

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Fri Feb 24 2023
2

An exhausted looking group of people sits around a large conference room table. Cheesburger wrappers, paper coffee cups, and stack after stack of glossy album art cover every inch. A balding man wearily pushes his chair away and stands. Rubbing his temples, he bellows, "Goddammit, one more! One fucking more and we can all go home!" He slumps back into his chair, hands covering his face, and pleads, "Please tell me somebody's got something." He looks into the eyes of the others around the table. From each, his gaze is returned with the thousand yard stare of someone that has endured an experience so horrific that it can never be spoken of again. But the death march is not over and no one offers to take the final step. His forehead hits the table with a limp thunk. The conference room door opens and the intern enters with more bad coffee. "Who needs cream and sugar?" A resonant 'bing' signals the arrival of the elevator. The doors slide open and the cleaning crew piles out to begin their nightly chores. The manager's ears prick up a hunting dog that's heard the rustling of game in the underbrush. He points excitedly in the direction of the people exiting the elevator. "That's it! We're saved! That's 1001!" And that's how this album of elevator music got included on this list.

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Sun Feb 20 2022
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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Thu Jan 20 2022
5

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

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Thu Jan 20 2022
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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Mon Jul 25 2022
5

Great album with classic beeps and boops

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Mon Nov 22 2021
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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Thu Jan 27 2022
2

Want to fill a room with a series of random drums, clicks, and keyboard that is completely unremarkable? Then this is the album for you!

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Thu Apr 07 2022
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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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

First time listen. This blew me away.

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Mon Mar 13 2023
5

Excellent classic electronica. Wide variety of beats and moods. Fun to hear some stuff that ends up getting sampled by others later. Also makes me want to listen to some Orbital...

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Fri Oct 29 2021
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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Wed Nov 03 2021
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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Sat Apr 16 2022
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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Mon Mar 11 2024
3

Selected Ambient Works indeed. It does its job as advertised.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
1

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

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Mon Sep 20 2021
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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Mon Sep 20 2021
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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Fri Oct 29 2021
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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Tue Nov 09 2021
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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Wed Jul 05 2023
4

without knowing the chronology, the earliest-sounding (or at least the most 80ish) track is "Delphium" Sometimes pretty, sometimes spooky (Hedphelym), as it stands I think I appreciate it more than the Moby album from this list but less than the Boards of Canada one. Definitely won't try listening to this on the bus again, but I think it might be valuable for writing/studying to in the future. HL: “Xtal”, “Heliosphan”, “Hedphelym”, “Ageispolis” July 4, 2023

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Fri Aug 18 2023
4

finally a good electronica album... omfg it's soooo good

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Fri Dec 15 2023
4

Putting aside the fact that I’m not really sure a lot of this classifies as “ambient” music - some of it is very busy and attention grabbing rather than something that hangs in the ethereal back drop - I like this record, always have, especially the tracks that are on the more ambient side.

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Thu Oct 07 2021
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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Tue Nov 02 2021
3

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

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Mon Jan 23 2023
3

The 1001 albums app made a mistake: the album's title should here read: "Selected Ambient Works *Volume II*". That's the one that's a keeper, even if the first volume is quite an interesting release in itself for all fans of EDM/IDM (especially because of its three highlights "Xtal", "Tha" and "Heliosphan"). So, yes, *85-92* is fine. But out of the two volumes, the second one fares better as an integral and complete artistic statement. In fact, its dark and mesmerizing experimental sounds haven't aged a day. That's where you recognize a true masterpiece in the electronic genre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selected_Ambient_Works_Volume_II Number of albums left to review: 670 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 161 Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 76 (including this one) Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more essential to me): 93

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Sat Oct 22 2022
2

Qu'est-ce que tu nous as encore préparé, Robert... Cet album est tellement dépourvu d'intérêt qu'il doit se sentir comme un poisson dans l'eau dans cet incompréhensible générateur d'idioties. Robert, sache que je vais faire de la place dans mon emploi du temps pour surveiller tes moindres faits et gestes pendant les prochaines semaines…

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Wed Aug 23 2023
2

I heard someone say it's something you'd listen to if you didn't want music and didn't want silence and that does a good job summing it up. A publication said this was the BEST album of the 90s and that is so far from the truth.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
2

Maybe this stuff was interesting or innovative in the cultural and artistic hellscape that was the 90s. Here in 2024, it’s just boring noises.

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Thu Feb 29 2024
2

Much of it sounds like background music for the Discovery Channel show How Its Made.

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Mon Mar 25 2024
2

Maybe it's groundbreaking but it's also mind-numbingly boring.

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Wed Apr 03 2024
2

Never heard of this guy or his album... but I'll give it a whirl. Did a bit of background searching on the album, found there's a lot of people got a full hard-on for this stuff, disecting it and the brilliance of it all. Personally, it opens well, so ok, it's ambient music, ok I get that, but more than half way through the album you realise it's the same baseline and haunting synth strap. So in summary, grand if you've dropped a tab and off tripping, off in a wee colourful spaced out wonderland with this album randomly reminding you of your heartbeat with the baseline drum beat... other than that, I can think of no occasion I'd ever want to listen to this, or to go tripping out of my head either... I prefer music played by musicians on actual instruments, not something created on a laptop by a computer programmer.

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Wed May 08 2024
2

It's ok, nothing too crazy. I wouldn't listen to it ever again though.

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Fri Nov 12 2021
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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Mon Dec 06 2021
1

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

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Mon Jan 17 2022
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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Fri Jun 10 2022
1

I thought Aphex Twin was the cutting edge of left field electronic dance music. This sounds a bit like background music for a moderately successful tv show. It probably sounded more out there at the time but I think things have moved on since then.

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Wed Jul 13 2022
1

This album was so long and after the first few songs was pretty boring. It’s really only sufficient use is background music and even then there are more enjoyable options. Not a fan of this one. 1.3/10

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Mon Aug 08 2022
1

I am aware that this is insanely influential and a sacred cow among music nerds, but today it just sounds like somebody messing around with FL Studio presets. Ambient music is really hit or miss for me. I can't tell you with I loved Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygéne" and why this album completely flew over my head. Best part was when he used the goofy ass Looney Tunes "BOING!" sound effect in "Green Calx".

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

always loved their work. reverbs with the universe

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Fri Dec 10 2021
5

Das steht sicher nicht umsonst in meinem Regal

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

Very good sound. Ahead of its time

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Tue Mar 08 2022
5

listen to them a lot. just really fucking interesting.

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Wed Apr 27 2022
5

I am in love with this album

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

This album is so far ahead of its time that’s listening to it now still sounds fresh. Though I wouldn’t classify this as ambient, this music is certainly less harsh than some of Aphex Twin’s subsequent work. The influence this music has had across genres is staggering; it’s clear that Aphex Twin influenced Radiohead and inspired their Kid A era move to more electronic based music.

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Sun Jun 05 2022
5

Pas fan de l'électro mais j'ai bien aimé cet album.

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Thu Jun 30 2022
5

A masterpiece in ambient music. Can always put this album on and just feel better, chills me out. The opening bars to Xtal is some of the most peaceful music I know

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Sun Jul 10 2022
5

omfg absolute bangers through and through. what an artist

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Tue Jul 26 2022
5

One of the greatest albums of all time

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Fri Jul 29 2022
5

Unabashed classic, sounds lightyears ahead of its time. Even if "Ambient" isn't really the genre to describe this music anymore since it's so exciting and filled with changes.

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Sun Jul 31 2022
5

This album is incredible front to back. Always kind of aware of Aphex Twin and heard the music occasionally in the background, but never listened to a whole record front to back, this is just excellent. Obviously game changing.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
5

Wow I loved this. I’ve never been so happy to just close my eyes and have an album wash over me. Every song has its own bits of catchy rhythms or basslines that just keep them going, and somehow after ~80 minutes it doesn’t get old. 10/10

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Sat Sep 03 2022
5

Really funky, just noise and stuff

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Thu Sep 15 2022
5

Iconic album. Aged rather well too, which can't be said for most of electronic music of that period. It is not flashy, but it is really well made. Works great as a background music, but has enough details to be interesting if you are paying attention too. And it's influence is undeniable.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
5

It's been a long time I was this impressed with an album on first listen. I have always been aware of Aphex Twin, but never really listened to him. Until now. And it has opened up a whole new world of music. Maybe not all songs are of the same quality of Heliospan, Schottkey 7th Path or Ptolemy, but reading up I certainly see even more how genre defining this work is and where later Radiohead during their Kid A era got their inspiration. This is going to be played a lot more in the coming months and years.

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Tue Sep 27 2022
5

Wow very cool, saved!! Deffo gonna play this when trying to focus, I loved loads of tracks from this: Xtal, Tha, I, Ptolemy, Actium

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Sat Oct 01 2022
5

Another of my all time favourite albums - end to end perfection - it sounds timeless despite the calendar range in the title, surprisingly chock full of hooks and soul for an ambient album - and perfectly paced and an absolute immaculate flow. This is definitely the album that I’d put on to fight a ‘meh’ - in productivity, focus or motivating - it’s just pumping enough to get me going and gentle enough to ease me into a good mood.

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Mon Oct 03 2022
5

Early on in music school I learned that if you want to sound like your influences, then you should listen to your influences influences. This wasn't tied to classical music or anything actually, as this tidbit came from my friend when I told him I want to sing like Eddie Vedder and he said "you should then try to sing like who Eddie Vedder wanted to sing like". It was really interesting to me. This group and album was one of the biggest influences on one of my biggest influences in music school, a guy named Payton MacDonald (and his music group called Alarm Will Sound). The group even has a full album of Aphex Twin covers and I think at some point they worked with Payton and/or he commissioned them to write music for him to perform. Because of that I feel like a sort of connected lineage to the group in inspiration. I love the album, I love their sound, and I'm just into it. The first track, "Xtal" carries so much emotion. Sometimes I think about how limited synths are and digital sounds altogether. They are innately robotic, innately inhuman. I know I'm wrong when I think that, but it pops up in my head sometimes. I think that the next time it does however I'll throw on "Xtal" and prove myself wrong. For videogame soundtracks I tend to write a lot of atmospheric synth music for in between scenes, and I think they capture the mood of "melancholic" really as good as you can do it. Overall, easy 5/5 for me. It's so much more than just an electronic music album.

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Sun Oct 16 2022
5

This is always a go to for me, superb ambient joy

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Tue Nov 08 2022
5

Loved this album from start to finish. Ambient well done is mesmerising !

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

I think maybe I get electronic music now? This thing is alive. Morphing, molting, evolving before your very eyes/ears. A massive collection of music that never once drags. A gargantuan feat.

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Fri Jan 27 2023
5

A classic album of electronica. It still sounds as fresh and as futuristic as it was in 1992. Amazing.

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Mon Feb 06 2023
5

A good one to apply me newly developed ambient/psy/experimental electronica rating check which I formally dubbed the Doof Decision; that is, would I stop if I were to walk past this going off in the psy trance tent. Answer - yes. Result - 5 stars.

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Tue Feb 07 2023
5

I actually really like this one, 4.5

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Tue Feb 14 2023
5

Did not expect this genre of music to be on the list. Quite enjoyed it.

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Mon Feb 20 2023
5

Ah mikä nautinto! Suorastaan upottavaa konemusaa genrensä mestarilta. 5/5

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Mon Feb 20 2023
5

Tätä on vaikea kuvailla sanoin. Kuin jokin puuttuva palanen mielen syövereistä. Kuuntelemalla kaikki loksahtaa kohdalleen.

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Mon Feb 27 2023
5

From a fourteen year old prodigy to a twenty-one year old genius, these selected ambient works were, and remains, the perfect distillation of the essence of this multi-pseudonym phenom of electronic music. One of the many building blocks that holds together the current robust state and legacy of the genre that has informed and influenced many that has come its way, it is hard to imagine what the DNA would be like had this album not been compiled and sent out to the world. Good thing we've been hanging on tight in this wild rollercoaster ride for these last thirty years. We've all come to Daddy.

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Sun Mar 05 2023
5

Elsker, som den mandemanipulator jeg er :))))

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Tue Mar 07 2023
5

Great album. Very chill and relaxing, but also has the grooves to keep it interesting.

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Tue Mar 07 2023
5

Obviously 5 stars for one of the best electronic albums ever made (but note that the 1001 list has an extremely narrow range when it comes to electronic music).

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Fri Mar 10 2023
5

I really like this album. Classic IDM/ambient house and techno. Standout tracks are Xtal, Tha, Pulsewidth, Ageispolis, Heliospan, We Are the Music Makers, Schottkey 7th Path, Ptolemy, Hedphelym, Delphium & Actium

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Tue Mar 14 2023
5

Bits of the album probably bring it down to more of a 4.5/5 but the DNA of this album has had a massive impact on my tastes, and my life really (I work with synths all day). Always good to revisit.

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Mon Mar 27 2023
5

Just listen to it. A classic

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Thu Mar 30 2023
5

This album introduced me to ambient music.

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Wed Apr 05 2023
5

Creative an varied, spacious, innovative auditory landscapes. A real mood setter and masterpiece

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