Selected Ambient Works 85–92 (often abbreviated to SAW85–92 or simply SAW 1 due to the fact that James' follow up included a volume number) is an ambient techno album by Richard D. James under his pseudonym of Aphex Twin. It is his third release under this alias. It was released in 1992 on the Belgian techno label R&S Records. Re release 2008 in a remastered format digitally on CD and on VINYL 2006. It is questionable if the same mix is on both releases, CD and VINYL.
Having been a club DJ
in the late 1980s and early 1990s in his home 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, occasionally radio
-friendly songs that were mostly beat-oriented.
The songs are faster and more percussion-oriented than many of the earlier ambient creations of other musicians such as Brian Eno. His follow-up album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II, is closer to these earlier creations. Not all the songs were created during and after his work as a DJ. James would have been making songs as early as 1985 (having been born in 1971, he would have been 13 or 14 years old when he made some of these songs).
According to rumors, the prodigious James would preview new material to his friends on cassette as they drove around Cornwall. A few tracks on the album have apparently been mastered from these cassettes, and the ensuing truncated beginnings and endings on these songs is apparent.
A remastered SAW 85–92 Compact Disc was released by Apollo/R&S Records on April 8, 2008.
Although primarily an instrumental effort, many of the songs feature vocal samples
. "Xtal" has samples of female vocalising
, as well as alternating fantasy sounds in alternating measures, both repeated intermittently throughout the song. "Tha" has clips of two people (one possibly being James himself) 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
. Some have mistakenly attributed James with the first use of this oft-used sample, but while James may have created track 8 with the quote at some time after 1985, the first use of it appeared on "Nephatiti" on by 808 State
, the Manchester group that influenced James and its song “Flow Coma” that James remixed and appeared on 2003's 26 Mixes for Cash
(disc 2, track 6). "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
"We Are the Music Makers" was also remixed (or a new version created) by James's Rephlex pseudonym Caustic Window. The song, titled "We Are the Music Makers (Hardcore Mix)," is much faster than the original, and features completely new beats (the only thing keeping the two songs related are the equipment the songs were recorded on and the movie sample). It is available on the rare Joyrex J9ii EP or picture disc and on Caustic Window's Compilation album.
claims that while "the sound quality is relatively poor," the album is "a watershed of ambient music. and David M. Pecoraro of Pitchfork Media
calls it "among the most interesting music ever created with a keyboard and a computer. Rolling Stone
Magazine called the album "majestic." 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."
- "Xtal" – 4:54
- "Tha" – 9:06
- "Pulsewidth" – 3:46
- "Ageispolis" – 5:23
- "i" – 1:17
- "Green Calx" – 6:05
- "Heliosphan" – 4:51
- "We Are the Music Makers" – 7:43
- "Schottkey 7th Path" – 5:08
- "Ptolemy" – 7:10
- "Hedphelym" – 6:00
- "Delphium" – 5:26
- "Actium" – 7:32
- Weisbard, Eric; Craig Marks (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books.