INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire JANUARY 2017 - by Claire Sawers
BRIAN ENO: REFLECTION
In a blurb about his new ambient album, Brian Eno says, Reflection is so called because I find it makes me think back. It makes me think things over. It seems to create a psychological space that encourages internal conversation."
Who knows what internal conversations Reflection will encourage. Maybe the listener's mind will wander back to guiding Ecco The Dolphin past coral reefs and crystal glyphs on a Sega Megadrive. Or watching in stoned fascination as a lump of glowing neon prepares to slide into the cosmic liquid in a lava lamp, or witnessing a glacier calving in a nature documentary, gracefully crumbling in silence, because it's filmed far enough away to cut out the thunder as it breaks.
Reflection is minimal, incrementally changing, state-altering ambient music, this time made from underwatery textures and calm phrases. Soft bells, low chimes, muffled extraterrestrial wooshes and wooden glockenspiel are layered up in slow motion, then given micro-adjustments through a set of rules programmed in by Eno. "One rule might say 'raise one out of every hundred notes by five semitones' and another might say 'raise one out of every fifty notes by seven semitones'," Eno explains, in full ambient boffin mode.
Unlike his recent song-based album The Ship, Reflection is one continuous piece, just over fifty minutes long. He might have lost credibility for many when he jumped on the payroll of Nick Clegg, Apple, Coldplay and U2, but Eno's striving nature and his ability to morph sounds, alter moods and conduct psychoacoustic experiments still yields weird and enjoyable fruits here.
Reflection glows understatedly around that sweet spot of background noise; neither bilge nor beige. It's far more meditative and infinitely less trippy than something like Swastika Girls from the early Fripp-Eno days, but the suck downwards into the soothing murk of the "internal conversation" is strong.