Selected Ambient Works 85–92

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Selected Ambient Works 85–92
Studio album by Aphex Twin
Released 12 February 1992 (1992-02-12)
Recorded 1985–1992
Genre Ambient techno, IDM
Length 74:21
Label Apollo (AMB 3922)
Producer Richard D. James
Aphex Twin chronology
Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Xylem Tube EP

Selected Ambient Works 85–92 (or Selected Ambient Works 85 to 92) is an ambient techno album by Richard D. James under the pseudonym of Aphex Twin. This is his third release and debut studio album under this alias. It was released in 1992 on the Belgian techno label Apollo. An analogue remaster was released in 2006, and a digital remaster was released in 2008. Selected Ambient Works 85–92 is considered by many to be the threshold album in modern ambient music as well as one of the pioneering works in IDM and electronic dance music.[1]


Having been a club DJ in the late 1980s and early 1990s in his home county of Cornwall, James had learned about new music techniques and rhythm patterns. With the club scene under his belt, and with a small underground following, James went on to release SAW 85-92, which was mostly recorded before he started DJing and consisted of instrumental songs that were mostly beat-oriented.[2]

A remastered SAW 85–92 Compact Disc was released by Apollo/R&S Records on 8 April 2008. The remastered 12" vinyl record was released in 2006.


Although Selected Ambient Works is primarily instrumental, many of the songs feature vocal and other samples. "Xtal" features a repeating wordless female vocal sampled from the library music Evil at Play. "Tha" has clips of several people talking, while "Actium" has samples of what sound like squeaking shoes in a hallway. "We Are the Music Makers" features a line of dialogue from the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. "Green Calx" contains samples from RoboCop: the dinosaur's popping eyes during the 6000 SUX TV ad, the ED-209 robot trying to go downstairs without success, and the sound of RoboCop browsing faces of criminals in the police archives computer. "Green Calx" also contains a faint sample of the vocal from "Fodderstompf" by Public Image Ltd, as well as distortion of the opening titles of John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[3]
Blender 4/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (9.4/10)[4]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[6]
Q Magazine 5/5 stars [7]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[8]
Record Collector 5/5 stars[9]
Spin 9/10 stars[10]

Allmusic claims that while "the sound quality is relatively poor," the album is "a watershed of ambient music."[3] David M. Pecoraro of Pitchfork Media calls it "among the most interesting music ever created with a keyboard and a computer."[4] Rolling Stone called the album "majestic,"[6] and the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll claims the album was received by critics as "an ambient masterpiece comparable to work by The Orb and Brian Eno."[11] Warp Records has billed this as "the birthplace and the benchmark of modern electronic music" and has stated that "every home should have a copy."[12] In 2003, the album was placed #92 in "NME's 100 Best Albums" poll (link). The album was also featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed and arranged by Richard D. James.

No. Title Length
1. "Xtal"   4:54
2. "Tha"   9:06
3. "Pulsewidth"   3:46
4. "Ageispolis"   5:23
5. "i"   1:17
6. "Green Calx"   6:05
7. "Heliosphan"   4:51
8. "We Are the Music Makers"   7:43
9. "Schottkey 7th Path"   5:08
10. "Ptolemy"   7:10
11. "Hedphelym"   6:00
12. "Delphium"   5:26
13. "Actium"   7:32


  1. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal. "Selected Ambient Works 85-92> Review". Slant Magazine Inc. Retrieved 2 November 2002. 
  2. ^ Bush, John. "Aphex Twin". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Bush, John. "Selected Ambient Works 85-92 > Overview". Allmusic. All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Pecoraro, David M. (20 February 2002). "Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92: Pitchfork Record Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  5. ^ "Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 | Music Review". Slant Magazine. 2 November 2002. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Blashill, Pat (12 December 2002). "Selected Ambient Works 85-92 : Aphex Twin : Review : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. RealNetworks, Inc. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Selected Ambient Works 85-92 - Aphex Twin > Review". Muze Inc. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Weisbard & Marks, 1995. p.15
  11. ^ George-Warren, Holly and Patricia Romanowski, ed. (2005). "Aphex Twin". The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York City: Fireside. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-7432-9201-6. 
  12. ^ Blashill, Pat (12 December 2005). "Selected Ambient Works 85-92 : Aphex Twin : Review : Mahalo". Mahalo. Mahalo, Inc. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 


  • Weisbard, Eric; Craig Marks (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 

External links[edit]