100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #13

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85 – 92
The budget of The Blair Witch Project was around $20,000 which is, to use the correct economic term, peanuts. Its simplicity, far from being a hindrance, was the key to its success, since it played off the imagination of the viewer. It got the balance just right; it had enough detail for you to know what was going on, but left enough blank spaces to allow you to fill it with your own personal nightmares. ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’, Aphex Twin’s first LP, is the Blair Witch of electronic music. Simple, layered, repetitive synth lines and pulsating drum lines are the only thing found on this record (with the exception of a speech sample from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’). Like ‘Blair Witch’, it uses its simplicity to its advantage. Some of them are eerie, others are positively blissful but they’ve always got a constantly swelling sense of mystery about them. They’re subtle, but they’re still absolute journeys in themselves. They bring to mind deserted rainy cities, haunted subways and marooned spaceships. Alone in the house on a dark night; bring your readied imagination with you. What’s even more impressive is that they’re still incredibly effective even though the sound quality isn’t even that great; Richard James (Aphex Twin) recorded all the songs directly to cassette. The cassette itself was either mauled by a cat or drowned in orange juice at some point or another. Despite these battlescars, the record itself is one of the most evocative and transporting in this list.
Listen to: Delphium

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