"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The Arts Desk November 10, 2012 - by Mark Kidel
BRIAN ENO: LUX
Brian Eno's latest is the musical equivalent of slow food: something to savour in a state of quietude and away from the stresses of accelerated time. The ambient genre of which he was a pioneer has, in other hands, drifted into a kind of quality Muzak, background music to soothe the nerves of restless devotees of speed. With a subtle palette of soft-edged keyboard and string sounds, laden with reverb, Eno manages to stop time, avoiding the inevitably predictable tropes of narrative development, and gently drawing the listener into the presence of the here and now.
Brian Eno avoids the cosy syrup of New Age doodlings - the stuff masseurs use to help soften overwrought muscle tissue. And yet, the music on Lux is never less than sweet, but a cool sweetness, well-dosed and never plunging into excess.
There is, in a sense, never anything new in a music which focuses so clearly on texture and timbre rather than unfolding drama or melody. The idea is to stop rather than be drawn into the tension and goal-driven script of musical story-telling - the laws of harmony or the structure of the twelve-bar blues, for instance. So Lux is in many ways very similar to No Pussyfooting, Eno's 1973 excursion into similar territory with Robert Fripp, or any of the other famous ambient albums from Music For Airports to his collaborations with pianist Harold Budd.
As antidote to the stresses of constantly accelerated time, a process whereby increased speed, paradoxically, reduces the time we have available, Lux is both political statement and healing tool. It makes you feel good while drawing you away from the pace imposed by the constant stimulation of desire and expectations. Don't expect the excitement that Eno as producer coaxes out of Coldplay or U2. Neither is Lux ideal background music: it demands the kind of attention that slows the heart and opens the mind.