The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

Ambient Renaissance

A deep dive into Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works 85-92”
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Ryan Sarapa
A mashup of various different Aphex Twin logos

Selected Ambient Works (85-92) has proven to be a perpetually impactful album by David Richard James, better known as Aphex Twin. His debut album, the music featured on it dates back to when James was just 14 years old with nothing more than a keyboard and computer.

The title itself provides insight into the album’s composition. The term “Selected Ambient Works” indicates a collection of tracks that fall under the ambient genre, characterized by a focus on atmosphere, mood, and texture rather than traditional musical structures. Aphex Twin’s impact on this genre has been substantial.

The numbers 85-92 refer to the years in which these tracks were produced, showcasing a range of James’s early works.

The album opens with “Xtal,” a mesmerizing piece that sets the tone for the entire collection. It features ethereal synthesizers, intricate percussion, and a dreamlike quality that invites listeners into the world of Aphex Twin. “Tha” follows, introducing a delicate balance between lush melodies and subtle rhythmic elements.

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One of the standout tracks is “Pulsewidth,” which showcases James’s ability to create emotive soundscapes through minimalistic means. The use of analog synthesizers contributes to the warm and nostalgic feel, a characteristic present throughout the album.

Tracks like “Ageispolis” and “Heliosphan” exhibit a more rhythmic side of Aphex Twin’s ambient exploration. These pieces integrate pulsating beats with ambient textures, blurring the lines between ambient and techno. The result is a hypnotic and otherworldly sonic experience.

The album’s diversity is also evident in “We Are the Music Makers,” a piece that introduces a whimsical melody and a sense of childlike wonder. This track, like many others on the album, reflects James’s ability to evoke a wide range of emotions through his music.

Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is notable not only for its innovative sound but also for its influence on electronic music as a whole. Aphex Twin’s use of unconventional sounds, intricate production techniques, and the overall atmospheric quality of the album set a standard for ambient and electronic artists to come.

The album’s impact is still felt today, and its enduring appeal lies in its ability to transport listeners to a unique musical realm, one that remains experimental but captivating.  Selected Ambient Works 85-92 continues to be a timeless and widely beloved milestone for Aphex Twin and ambient music as a whole.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Sarapa, Staff Writer
Ryan Sarapa is a junior at North Allegheny Senior High. He enjoys listening to and making music. He hopes to create meaningful and engaging articles for the uproar website.

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