INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire JULY 1993 - by Biba Kopf
BRIAN ENO: NEROLI
In keeping with its chameleon nature, Ambient has become a catchall euphemism for those quieter moments in music. In Eno's absence from the form he popularised, first as Discreet Music and then even more discreetly on his Ambient label, it now describes anything remotely atmospheric (ie. you can hear crickets chirruping), electronic or cosmically orientated, regardless of the Wagnerian playback settings (The Orb live). Contemporary usage might make a nonsense of Eno's definition, but so long as the music accords with its environment, then it passes muster as ambient However, Neroli, Eno's first Ambient record proper since 1985's Thursday Afternoon (the immensely appealing The Shutov Assembly is packed with a little too much incident to really qualify), goes some way to reasserting his definition of Ambient as an oasis of near-silence, a psychic retreat from the tensions of big city noise, a place for repose. The knack of such music is to erect the defences, so to speak, without alerting listeners to outside threat On Neroli, Eno's bricks are a sequence of four notes with an occasional deep bass undertow.As the note sequence pursues its slow circular motions, it kind of enters the listener unnoticed, unlocking notions of silence more impervious to noise than physical silence, always prone to violation, could ever be. Though open-ended in structure - you can enter or leave it as you will - it is paradoxically a most rigorous record, a single, deceptively simple idea worked through fifty-eight minutes. While it's there it's almost invisible, but once it's over and the noise rushes back in, you are tantalised by its scent-like note sequence into seeking Its protection again.