INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Rock Cellar NOVEMBER 2012 - by Paul Gleason
ILLUMINATING "LUX" IS A TRUE BRIAN ENO ALBUM
Recently, Brian Eno's rack holds three hats.
He wears the first hat when he produces mediocre major pop albums by Paul Simon, U2, and (yikes!) Coldplay. When he dons his second hat, he dramatically shifts away from pop music and collaborates on records with poets like Rick Holland, classical and experimental composers like Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins, and eclectic musical visionaries like David Byrne.
True Brian Eno albums are rare occurrences these days. Eno last attempted one back in 2005, when he released the rightly maligned Another Day On Earth. It was the first Eno album to feature vocals in over two decades, and its cold reception probably scared the man silent and sent him running toward ColdplayLand and its breeding ground of cash cows.
As a True Brian Eno album, Lux is a different beast than Another Day On Earth. Instead of singing, Eno has compiled four ambient soundscapes that have been installed in art galleries and airport terminals. In other words, Lux attempts to take Eno and his listeners back to the halcyon days of the mid-to-late 1970s, when he was inventing ambient music. Recall Becalmed from Another Green World (1975), Warszawa from David Bowie's Low album (1977), and all-out ambient records like Discreet Music (1975) and Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978).
Eno succeeds brilliantly on Lux, proving once and for all that it's the third hat fits him the best. Neither too artsy nor too poppy, the record occupies a middle ground of sheer beauty that's accessible to all. Eno's most loyal listeners, as well as those new to him, will find themselves inspired by Lux.
The word "lux" indicates a unit of illumination - and illumination and introspection result from listening to Eno's record. By not titling the four tracks (all of them are numbered variations on the word "LUX"), Eno emphasizes the album as a continuous piece of minimalistic music. Clocking in at 76:23, Lux features Eno's stunning synth lines, which intersect with Abrahams' Moog guitar and Nell Catchpole's viola and violin parts.
The lengthy recording gives the listener the time to sit quietly, be becalmed, and meditate.
The only problem with Lux - and, for an album this solid, it's just a small one - is that there's really nothing new here. The record most definitely is retro, but Eno's best third-hat albums have always been innovative.
The invention of ambient, of course, occurred over thirty years ago, on Discreet Music, Low, and Music For Airports. But it's always great to hear a master doing what he does best, especially when he's this inspired and inspiring.