INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Exclaim! APRIL 30, 2018 - by Kevin Press
BRIAN ENO: MUSIC FOR INSTALLATIONS
One of the reasons why Brian Eno's ambient music has been so influential is that he makes it sound easy. How many of us have dozed off to Music For Films, convinced that with the right equipment we could replicate the great artist's vision?
This new collection of installation pieces should serve as a reminder that most of us are kidding ourselves. There is a clarity to Eno's work that sounds like simplicity, but is in fact something altogether different. Eno's music - and this new box set of twenty-four works is another in a long line of proof points - is all about clarity of vision and pristine execution.
Eno has been working for years to, as he puts it, identify "the space in between the traditional concept of music and the traditional concept of painting." Along the way, he's developed what he calls generative music. He designs systems that produce music, and then stands back and lets them go. Once these systems are built, they can churn out an almost endless series of variations. It's a fascinating idea that has helped Eno produce a long list of memorable art pieces.
Music For Installations was co-produced by Eno and frequent partner Nick Robertson. The box set includes six CDs, a sixty-four-page book with Plexiglass cover and download code. There's also a nine-piece vinyl set; none of this work has appeared on vinyl before.
The work is just as beautiful as you'd expect. And at just under five-and-a-half hours, there's plenty of it to enjoy. The only complaint (quibble really), is that a number of the pieces don't have endings. We get hard stops, presumably because these installation works were not meant to start and stop like conventional pieces of music. It's jarring and it detracts from the listening experience.
Otherwise, this is an enjoyable and important document. One of many for a pioneer we are all grateful to have discovered.