INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Trouser Press JULY 1979 - by Jon Young
BRIAN ENO: MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS / STEVE HILLAGE: RAINBOW DOME MUSICK
We've come a long way, maybe. It used to be easy to discern what was acceptable music and what wasn't: anything that generated excitement (and improper conduct) among the young, while irritating adults, was Good. Everything else was Bad. The mutati o n of rock'n'roll into an Art Form changed all that; now we have our own answer to Mantovani, Perry Como, or whoever. Recent releases by Brian Eno and Steve Hillage show just how far the boundaries of the music once called rock'n'roll have been stretched.
Music For Airports is an extension of the lovely nothingness first unveiled on Discreet Music a few years back. Eno is concerned with "the use of music as ambience," i.e., "a tint." By way of providing the thinking person's Muzak, he creates four longish (six to sixteen minute) pieces, each a low-key repetition of a few simple tones. Whether he employs piano, 2001-type voices, electronics, or a combination, the result is a lulling, meditative sound that's literally impossible to concentrate upon (And hey, if this is music for airports, what's it doing on a record intended for home play?) Eno write that ambient music "must be as ignorable as it is interesting." Interesting?
Steve Hillage's latest should give pause to all those myopic bigots (like me) who like to write him off a a '60s casualty. Rainbow Dome Musick, recorded for the "Festival For The Mind-Body-Spirit" in London, show him as fully capable of being '80s left-field as he was (is) '60s left-field. Hardly featuring the guitar at all, Hillage and Miquette Giraudy opt instead for two Moog/Arp essay that would make a great soundtrack for a planetarium show on the wonder of the universe. Garden Of Paradise, after an opening uncannily like the sound of a broken toilet, gives the illusion of motion by heavy reliance on a sequencer. Four Ever Rainbow has an intriguing first half - continually distorted synthe zer whines of the sort that scare acid-heads - before settling down into more conventional squiggles, hums, and blips. While the typically placid Hillage has hardly achieved anything earthshaking here, he's thankfully discovered an alternative to being a lemming-like flower child, and allowed himseIf plenty of room to grow in the process.
"Dedicated to the universal pirit of New Age synthesis," say Steve on the cover; it's a new age indeed. Whereas once rock'n'roll was, like TV and junk food, perceived as a deliciously vulgar product of post-WWII society, some "intellectuals" in the ranks now seem to view it as a problem to be solved. A body hardly knows what's right anymore.