"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno


Opal Information was a publication that discussed the on-going work of Brian Eno and other artists released by his Opal Music label. Produced by Opal Ltd., it appeared on an irregular basis from 1986 until 1996. Each of the twenty-seven issues was comprised of approximately fifteen to twenty pages. The following is the complete text of Number 17, featuring Brian Eno, John Cale, Daniel Lanois, John Paul Jones and Michael Brook -

Opal Information: Number 17Opal Information: Number 17 (page 10 - detail from video used to make Wrong Way Up images)

We are pleased to report that the recent collaboration between Brian Eno and John Cale has resulted in a brilliant songs album entitled Wrong Way Up. Vocals are shared by Brian and John, each taking the lead on certain tracks. The album was recorded mainly at Brian's studio in Woodbridge, Suffolk and mixed at Air Studios, London, by Rhett Davies, Bruce Lampcov and Brian Eno. Other artists featured on Wrong Way Up are Nell Catchpole (violin), Ronald Jones (drums), DarylJohnson (bass), Dave Young (guitars) and Robert Ahwai (rhythm guitar).

Its worldwide release date is October 16.

Brian and John have, of course, been much in demand for many and varied interviews about this project. To provide the essential background information, and to avoid having to answer the same inevitable questions over and over again, Brian prepared the following amusing and informative letter to the people interviewing him:

Unlike many musicians, I enjoy doing interviews. For me it's a way of thinking aloud, and of focussing attention on questions that I probably wouldn't have asked myself otherwise. I enjoy also the discipline of having to, at least try to, make an answer - the discipline of having to finish the sentence so rashly started. Now I've just finished a record with John Cale, my first 'song record' for several years. For once, I haven't been looking forward to the interviews, because I felt certain that I would have to answer the same few questions over and over again. Well, I can't really blame anyone for asking them, but I hope you won't blame me for trying to get them out of the way a little in advance:

Q1: So how come you've gone back to writing songs again?

Mostly because I felt like singing. I love singing, and over the twelve or so years since I last did it on record I've been doing more singing than ever before - and more listening to other singers. Also, during that time, I've worked with people who can really use their voices - Bono, David Byrne, Aaron Neville, Bowie, Carmel - and this has changed the way I think about singing. I still face the compositional problem that made me lose interest in singing - the difficulty that a voice always seems to become the centre of any piece of music, with the result that it's very hard to construct the freely relating webs of sound that became the characteristic of the 'Ambient' recordings such as On Land. One way out (perhaps) is to mass the voices so that the 'individuality' of a single voice is lost in the crowd. I guess this is why I'm drawn to constructing harmonic stacks such as occur frequently on this record.

The other part of this question is really asking why I should return to narrative or word-based music after so deliberately avoiding them for so long. Well, I guess that if you want to sing, you have to sing something. I don't particularly fancy the idea of a whole album of vocalize, or a whole record of sheer nonsense (OK, say it), but at the same time I agree with David when he says "stop making sense" - my main message to lyric writers the world over. Not making sense doesn't necessarily mean making nonsense - it means not making common sense. It means making senses rather than sense, using words as you might use music, to create atmosphere and nuance and context and counterpoint and subtext and undertone and shock and resolution and dissonance and assonance and consonance and so on...

Which brings us to the next question, the several variants of:

Q2: What do the words mean?

It has always struck me as interesting that people never ask "what does this chord mean" or "what does this rhythm mean?" It's taken for granted that music is not seriously susceptible to such literal questions, that we are more interested by what music does than by what it means. It's funny too that people don't say to you "what do these words do?" thus acknowledging that the verbal part of a song has a function within the music like any other instrument - not just a vehicle for meaning being kept afloat on a sea of music, but a musical thing as abstract as any of the other musical events. This I'm sure, sounds evasive and coy. How, can you pretend that these words don't say something? Well, I don't pretend. But what I say is that this issue (tremendously interesting to writers since it crosses over into their medium - language) is not especially interesting to me - certainly not more interesting, for example, than a question such as "why do snare drums sound like they do?"

Q3: Why did you work with John Cale? (AKA "What's it like working with John Cale?")

Well... for years and years... early '70s... Fear... similar background in experimental music...Cage, La Monte Young... shared concepts of social significance of pop music... complementary talents - his command of 'real' music, mine of recorded music... new instruments mixed with old... quixotic brilliance... strange tangents... Words For The Dying in Russia... Carmen Miranda written together... seemed easy enough at the time ... let's do a few more... absolute nightmare... not easy at all... very pleased with result... genuine hybrid of incongruous talents...

We found an interview conducted by Hans Peter Kuenzler for the German press to be particularly interesting and reprint it below:

HK: In this letter you sent us, you hinted at having learnt some different angles on singing. Could you elaborate on that a bit?

BE: Well, I guess I've become comfortable with my voice in a way I wasn't before. I like the sound of my own voice! That's usually considered an insult, if you say about someone "he loves the sound of his own voice". But I do. And I guess that I've been listening to singers a lot more in the last few years than I used to. I've worked with a lot of very good singers. And I've been noticing the subtlety of the human voice as an instrument. And suddenly I like the voice again. That's all.

HK: When you say "the subtlety of the human voice" - your voice is not one of those voices that is subtle by being incredibly soulful and doing those little inflections like Aaron Neville or somebody like that does. I see the subtlety of your voice somewhere else.

BE: I don't know how "subtle" my voice is. I think my voice has a thinness which makes it capable of doing things other voices can't do. It's turning a disadvantage into an advantage, because thin voices do not give the kind of sound singers normally go for. People usually want to make a bigger voice with more breath, with more body. I like this thinness. It's like a sharp pencil line. With the instrumental sounds I make, I like to paint in big bright colours and with big strokes, but then I like this very thin line of voice coming through as well. I like that contrast a lot. So I use voice as a very sharp instrument, not as an impressionistic instrument. I use the words as an impressionistic instrument. But the voice I want to be a sharply defined thing. Because of the thin quality of my voice it's possible for me to stack voices on top of one another and to make very coherent blocks of sound. You can only do that with very pure voices and with voices that have a very stable pitch. My voice has a very stable pitch. I can hold notes very easily and for a long time without fluctuation. So whatever singing style I have is based around this mixture of strengths and limitations. I have no interest in becoming an operatic singer or a soul singer in the ordinary meanings of those terms. This is my voice and it is as much part of me as the fact that I'm only tive foot seven and a half inches tall, or that I haven't got much hair!

HK: When you actually work with other singers in your production work, how does your particular angle on the voice work into that? Can you tell somebody like Bono to cut out the pompous upper layer stuff?

BE: Of course I can always talk to singers, because I can always copy what they do, and I can always say, why don't you try such and such. So it's very useful to be able to communicate with another singer as a singer.

But the other thing I can do is, I love working out background vocals. I love thinking out what the counterpoint is to the main voice. Here's the main vocal, it does that. What could the rest of the world be saying in response to that main vocal? And I like working out those parts as well. I always think of backing vocals as the voices of society. The lead voice is an individual, obviously, but the stack of voices behind is the response of society to that voice. It's not an individual. It's an averaged out group. Something used a lot in '60s music, where the background voices are saying "Is she really going out with him?", "I don't know, let's ask her". There was this gossip going on behind. And then the main vocalist, the main individual, is set against the background of what society is thinking, if you like. So I enjoy playing that game. And with vocalists what I usually do is not what you said, "Do less of that". I usually say: "Do more of that". I usually want them to take their voices to extremes. So if someone's doing something pretentious, I would like them to do it more pretentiously. Make more of it. Make a real artefact. If such a phrase can be made, a "real artefact".

HK: As in a Brechtian sense, almost?

BE: Yes. Overplay it. If you're going to play it at all, play it to an extreme and see what happens. It might turn out that you play it to the extreme and it might not work, so you take it back a bit. But at least let's see what is at the extreme of that way of singing.

HK: Isn't there a danger - it strikes me in regard to U2 in particular, and within the framework of pop/rock music, where irony, for instance, isn't that common - that that kind of going over the top is taken as to be real passion, thus almost degrading passion as such.

BE: That's the point of going further. To me that's the point of making it clear that two things are going on. One is passion, it's not completely acted. But the other is artifice as well. And they don't contradict one another. In fact they need each other for each other's articulation. So it's not a problem for me to resolve the irony/sincerity argument. Can be both at the same time. You can be sincere in the sense that you're prepared to commit everything to this moment. But you can be ironic in the long term sense of realising, that that moment has no special validity, that there's no fundamental truth you can defend it with.

I would say I'm an ironist, in that I don't believe in anything ultimately. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in any of the big words that people use, like justice, freedom, final truth. Anything like that. I don't believe in those things. They are not part of my way of describing the world. But at the same time, within being an ironist of that kind I also believe the only way to make a situation work is. to commit everything to it at the time. To make total commitment to it. To say: ok, I can't finally defend this situation. I don't know whether it's real or not real. It doesn't matter. I shall make it work. And to do that I have to put all my energy into it. So I approach situations with passion, but I evaluate them after the event without passion. It's not a contradiction to me.

HK: In literature - in particular over the last few decades - the literature that sought its place in terms of having a social function came from Africa or Latin America, mostly. These people to me when I read them seemed to have a real point in making their art in terms of teaching something, telling people something about their situation that needs to be changed. Every once in a while I find this a difficulty in my own work, to see a point in simply writing about things that matter to me, but not necessarily anybody else. Do you ever have difficulty with that sort of question?

Opal Information: Number 17 (page 7)

BE: No, because I think you cannot help but operate politically. You're always making political choices and political statements. It doesn't matter what you think you're doing. Every aspect of behaviour has a resonance in terms of politics, in terms of the kind of world you think you live in and in terms of the kind of world you would like to live in. Anything you do, the way you dress, cook, make love, write - all of those things stem from two separate types of thinking. One is, this is the world you live in. It's only the world you live in; not the same world I live in. It's your evaluation of this world, and that's a political act, that kind of evaluation. And the second is: This is the world I would like. That's another political choice. For instance the world I would like probably doesn't quite match with yours. There might be a lot in common, but there might be some differences as well. And when I make things, I make things that I hope belong to this world I would like to exist. And by making those I hope I'm making that world happen. I'm creating some of the objects that belong in that world.

Now, the other way of being political is by saying: I believe in socialism, or free prise. And to say: I believe this is the final solution to how things must work. I have no ideas like that at all. I don't see any single way of describing the world of being finally the right way. I see situations that are always in evolution. For a time they need this technique, and then they need another technique. There must be a lot of variety in one's choices in what behaviour one makes. And the failure of most of our big political systems is that they're forced into a position of making the same type of choice over and over again. They have to defend themselves. They have to say, we're not communists. They have to say, we're not capitalists. But in fact sometimes these techniques are appropriate, sometimes those techniques are appropriate. So I have a very scrambled ideological picture. I pick and choose as I like. This is partly because I don't live in a situation that's politically oppressive. Probably if I lived in Latin America where the dominance of one ideology is very, very strong, and it very, very strongly affects people who live there, and it affects their everyday behaviour, it affects what they can say and do, and who they can talk to. Well - that makes politics a much bigger part of your life anyway.I don't even think about those things very much. I just carry on trying to make the world I want.

HK: Was this idea that you talked about earlier, about situations being in an endless state of flux, evolution, was that kind of view also behind what you did with those endless reel type pieces of music?

BE: Yes. Yes, that's right. That's also a picture of how the world works, actually. And it's a picture that says, what's important is not the number of elements, but the number of permutations that there can be. And variety is the result of permutation; of different things re-combining in slightly different ways. But those things keep coming round and round again, they're cyclic. It's not that there are constantly new elements entering the picture. They're always remixing in different ways. And if you listen to those pieces a lot, you start to understand that evolution is not a question of suddenly everything changing. It's a question of a new mix, a new blend, a new agreement between things. I guess ecologists understand this well. An ecology is a current state of equilibrium between things. But it never lasts. There aren't final equilibria. They're always mutating into new forms. And the problem I guess I have with most political systems is they always try to describe the world in terms of one picture that must remain forever. "This is the ideal picture, and it mustn't change". They want to make their picture and then defend it against change. W'e've seen why that doesn't work.

HK: Did you use any particular techniques for writing the songs on this album, Wrong Way Up?

BE: Haha. This is the difficult thing about doing interviews. You're talking about the world, and then - a record. Erm... I can't remember. I can't remember actually. I'd have to really stop and re-think to get back into that. It's actually boring, really. The way music is made is so boring, it's not worth talking about. I think , anyway. Maybe another day I would think it wasn't so boring.

HK: What you said earlier about the world and things interacting and evolving - at one stage you used to write music using cards, elements of chance. I just wondered whether you developed those two strands of thinking. Chance on one hand, and those loops that keep going, meeting each other at different points, whether that had in any way flowed into this particular set of songs.

BE: Well, I guess I always think I'm part of that process of loops. I'm just one of the loops. And a record is really a snapshot of a particular combination of things. This record is a snapshot of a few different things that were happening in my life. They don't manifest directly in the record. But when I was working on it the World Cup was on. That was a big part of my life this year, for some reason. Because it was highly emotional. At the same time I have a child, just born in January, and I was thinking about her a lot as well. I was making the record in my studio in Suffolk, but she was down in London with my wife. I was not in London so much of that time because I was working in the studio. And I was singing again. Singing is a very emotional experience for me. It's not something I do with - I don't do it analytically. I just sing. It comes out very easily for me. But if I do it for a long time, like at that time, I was working on those things for a whole day, just singing and singing. At the end of that time I'm so emotionally undefended, haha - it's like I'm standing there like that, and anything can attack me. Any feeling I'm very sensitive to. So I could watch the most pathetic soap opera and be absolutely in tears. I reach a condition of - I suppose empathy is the word - of really understanding, sharing other people's emotions, even quite fake emotions. I know they're fake, you know, some awful Australian soap opera. I know it's all fake, and that people don't really feel things like that. But I just absorb it ali. So, this particular snapshot that this record represents comes from a fairly, intensely emotional period for me. When all those elements, those loops combined in that particular way. The World Cup, my daughter, and me singing again. And John, of course. He's another loop, combining.

HK: Yet, at the same time there's a very peaceful sort of atmosphere in the music.

BE: Oh good. I'm very pleased to hear you say that. I think it's a very positive certainly when I was making it, it seemed very optimistic in a way, though it's not all happy music sort of thing. It seemed the feelings were hopeful. It was "hey, the future looks good", that kind of feeling. Things look quite good. And this is a slight difference of mood for me. Because a lot of the stuff I've done in the last few years has been quite melancholy in feeling. I don't mean miserable, but I mean slightly autumnal. Enjoying being alone, and a little bit - 'autumnal' is a very good word. Sunset, that kind of thing. And suddenly this record comes out, and it's - for me - full of life. Things look great. I think it's a lot to do with this new baby. She's such a great kid. And I suddenly feel - half of me feels her age again. Like I'm just seeing things and I'm thinking of life in terms of her life span now.

HK: For me, part of the positive atmosphere on the album came through the words a lot. I really find those rhymes, surprising sequences of words, funny, positive and moving in a way. I wondered whether when you write them, you're guided by the chance rhymes happening and developing here and there, or whether it's more a visual thing.

BE: Rhymes are a very good discipline. They make you say things that you wouldn't say otherwise. If you finished a line with a word, and you think, right, I've got to find a word to rhyme with that. Say the word is "strong". What can rhyme with that? "Wrong", "King Kong?" "King Kong?! Blimey, that's a strange one." The rhyme suggests words you'd never have thought of otherwise. Also, we have this thing called The Rhyming Dictionary. It's a great tool!

HK: Isn't that cheating a bit?

BE: I cheat as much as I can! Everything I do is based on cheating. I have no other way of working. Cheating is a very good technique. By cheating you get a lot for a little. Cheating is like a lever. A little movement here, a big movement over there. So, yeah, I'm a cheat. Yeah, I use a rhyming dictionary. I use a Thesaurus. I steal words from other places, newspapers, language study books. Anywhere I take words from. And I do the same with sound. For example, using a sequencer is a way of cheating. You may play something that you're able to play only once, but with a sequencer you can play it hundreds of times. A lot of the tools people use now have to do with cheating. There's just been a show at the British Museum called Fake, all about counterfeiting, copying and so on. They have a 300 BC copy of an 800 BC statue. They were doing it a long time ago. But, you know, copying is a good place to start, actually. If you don't have any ideas, which might happen, why not start by copying someone else? You won't make the same thing anyway. Whatever you do will be different. Just start watching where it becomes different and then make more of the differences. Capitalise on the differences. Sometimes you don't want to have to make every decision from new. It's very exciting, because most of the decisions are made for you. Like the Blues, most of the decisions are made. You know what the chord pattern is, it's the same in every Blues song. And the first line is always the same as the second line. So there's two lines and you then just have to think of a third one. So it's a simple form. But those simple forms allow you a lot of freedom to do whatever's left. Whatever's left is changing the melody in between. So, use received forms for focusing your attention on a finer level of detail. What often happens with people who insist on innovating everything, they make things that haven't gone into any depth on any level. That's how a lot of electronic music was in the '50s and '60s. The kind of electronic music that was being made was so incredibly, unbearably boring, and for me the first real, serious electric composer was Jimi Hendrix.

HK: Really?!

BE: Sure. I think Stockhausen was a theorist. Cage was a theorist. Good theorists, but the first people who were making MUSIC with it were popular musicians.

HK: Where would you see the electronics in Jimi Hendrix?

BE: Well, that was an electronic instrument he was playing. There would not have been a Jimi Hendrix without electricity. It's entirely related to amplification, and feedback, and that kind of thing.

HK: You used to use voice samples early on - I remember one song had Kurt Schwitters in it. Why did you stop experimenting with that sort of collage thing?

BE: Just haven't had time, had so many things to do. And also - sometimes I think: It's fine, I've done that, made a statement about it, now other people can do it for a while. I start lots of things. I'm not a great one for exploiting things for their full potential. I like starting things, doing them for the first time, and see what it's like. And then when I see that, I think, ok, now I'll do something else. I just keep doing things for as long as they are thrilling. I have been thinking about doing some more work like that recently. In fact, that other tape you've got has three pieces and then a piece called Juju Space Jazz which belongs to a different record, something else I'm working on. And I've been experimenting with using voice material again with that. But I'm doing it in a slightly different way now, which I can't explain to you.

Yeah. I just did it. Now other people do it. That's good.

HK: Working with John Cale again. Do you meet up every couple of years or so, and re-evaluate each other through making music together. How does it work? I noticed that you didn't seem to work with each other during his fiercer musical periods.

BE: Well, it's not as conscious a situation as you described. In fact, it's much more casual. This working phase just started with - he sent me tape, I think, of Words For The Dying, of a performance that had taken place in Holland. I liked it a lot and said I'd like to record that and release it on my label. We had connections with the orchestras of Gosteleradio in Russia. And it's possible to use those orchestras and it's much cheaper to work there than with Western orchestras. It would actually have been too expensive to make that record over here. But we could do it there, and they have a very, very high standard of players. So we did that. But the piece was only thirty-two minutes long, so we needed some more material on that record. So we just wrote some new stuff, and it happened very easily. So earlier this year I began thinking - no... this is terribly boring actually. John said he wanted to write some more songs, and would I like to help him. I then said, why don't we do a record together where we co-write all of the songs. I suppose the freedom of that was that I hadn't done a song-record for a long time, and I thought if I was to do it on my own I would never finish it. I just didn't know if I had the stamina to carry it through. It's very hard doing records like this, it takes a long time, and I'm always inclined to move to whatever - I like making fast strikes. That's why I like doing my exhibitions a lot. They don't take long to do, and for me they create a big impression. Records take a long time.

HK: You hint darkly (in the letter again) that it was a difficult process working with John.

BE: Yes, it was...

There is a big difference in style in the way John and I work. I'm a very careful worker. I spend a long, long time working on things. And I like to spend a long time. If I work on something I can absolutely think of nothing else. I stop all phone calls. I don't have calls. I don't make calls. My attention is completely trapped in that thing. It's the same in whatever I'm working on. It's the same when I do an interview. That's why it's difficult for me to just change direction like that. If I get into thinking about something I get a certain speed and momenturn going. And then to have to think about something else, I have to turn my brakes on really hard...

So my way of working is very pedantic. Focus, and concentrate. I concentrate well. John's way of working is totally the opposite. He's all over the place. He has no way of organising himself at all. He forgets things. He can't remember what this song is about, doesn't listen to things, and so on. But at the same time , partly because of that, he keeps throwing in wild cards. Like you're going along in your groove, working, and suddenly you get hit in your face with a big fish, or something like that. And it's sometimes very annoying, and sometimes really exciting. It creates a very strange chemistry, to have two people who really are at the extremes of working processes. I guess I'm about the most concentrated worker I've ever met in the sense of just keeping going, and keeping going, and I'm going to get it done, and I'm going to meet the deadline. And he's about the least concentrated. He's the wildest worker I've ever worked with. But those two attitudes really need each other.

HK: Have you ever felt that some of your Ambient things, maybe, have suffered from that, turned out a bit overcooked, bland?

BE: I only get accused of that by critics, funnily enough, not by listeners.Those records - there's some interesting things about those records. First of all, they've outsold any of my song records. My bestselling record is Music For Airports, and my second best-selling record is Discreet Music. So this is interesting, isn't it? Because writers have special interests in words, they always assume that records with words must be the best-selling ones. It's not true. Those two records are the best-selling records of my solo work.

The second thing is, those two records get responses that I value very, very much. Like, people write to me - I get a lot of mail about this - people write to me things like "this record saw me through a very difficult period in my life. I listened to it all the time and it really helped me", or "I've had two children listening to this record" or "I'm an architect and I always use your music when I'm working". Or for instance I read an interview the other day in a German magazine. The guy who made Sex, Lies, And Videotape, Soderbergh. In the interview he was asked, "How do you come up with your ideas?" He said, "Easy: I just shut myself into a room with all my Brian Eno records". So I like the idea of making music that people really use, that becomes part of their working life in the same way a pen you really enjoy working with does, or any kind of tool you really like. I think of that kind of music as tools, making tools for people. And ok, so maybe they are bland - in the way a pair of scissors is bland compared to a sculpture. But you can't cut paper with a sculpture. You need scissors. I think those records succeed in that way. If you don't want that from music, then of course they don't succeed. If that isn't what you want music for, they're no use for you. But, similarly, if you want music that creates that kind of atmosphere, not much other music does it. The Rolling Stones won't work, Beethoven won't do...

A certain blandness is part of that, a certain subtraction of things, leaving things out. And that can either be seen as bland, or can be seen as evocative, depending on your interest in the thing.

HK: Personally I can't stand that Wyndham Hill kind of stuff, bores me senseless. On the other hand your Music For Films records I find fascinating. But I just can't put my finger on where exactly the differences lie. Do you have any theory about that?

BE: I agree with you. I dislike that kind of music pretty much myself. I think Harold Budd said it properly. He said: "The thing that's wrong with that music is that there's no evil in it, it has no darkness in it". Now - music doesn't have to be miserable, threatening, dark, any of those things. But when it's all just that even, pastel light, it's not interesting. There's nothing like that in life that I'm interested in. I see around me a richer and more complicated world than that. And I want the music I listen to to have some feeling of being credible, of being a believable world, a world I can enter and find darkness and light, and reassurance and threat mixed up together in some degree. There doesn't even have to be much of the darkness, but there should be some.

The other thing I think about the kind of music you're referring to is: These people for me have very unsophisticated ears in terms of sound, in terms of the world of sound they've entered into. Composers now can work with two elements they could never really work with in the past before electronics. They can work with sound-texture in a vastly expanded way. If you were a composer at the beginning of this century, you would have a clarinet, violin, viola, etc, a set number of ingredients in your kitchen to work with. The nature of these things was fairly stable. Ok, you could make lots of combinations. But now you have an absolutely limitless number of ingredients to work with. It really is phenomenally large. There is no comparison to the situation composers have been in before. It would be like - if you said to a painter who was used to working with red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo, violet, you suddenly said to him, ok that's the spectrum you're used to, but now actually that's only that much and the spectrum is hundreds of miles long, there's all these new colours. So - of course people plunge into all these new colours. And generally they use them very badly. They use them Ln a kind of sensational way. Like the first time somebody - the first actions people take in a new medium are nearly always the same. Everyone when they get a Polaroid camera for the first time takes a picture of their girlfriend with her clothes off. That must be the first thing every Polaroid camera does. It's a little bit like that with the way New Age composers have approached synthesizers. It's like - whoaarr! that's the one, her with her clothes off. The musical equivalent of that experience. So it's unsophisticated in that way. But it's unsophisticated in another way as well.

The other thing composers have been able to do this century particularly since the '60s actually, with recording studios, is work with space. When you make a record in the studio, it doesn't really have a space to it. It's not like recording in a concert hall, or here, you'll know this recording was made in this room, it has characteristics. Well, recording studios deliberately minimise that kind of information, they take the spa ce away. It's music without a space when you record it. But what you do when you're using echoes , and reverbs , and time modulation, and delays, is that you invent a new space. You sa1r: Right, what space do I want this music to be in? And you can invent very complicated spaces. You can sa1r: I want this part to be in outer space, and this bit under water, etc. This is a real consideration for composers now, but they generally don't realise it. Again, what happens with a lot of New Age stuff, they look at these machines, space making machines they are basically, and they go: Whoaarr! That's good. And everybody goes through that. It's just dull. It's one trick. They don't cheat well enough. If you're going to cheat, you really have to specialise in cheating. And they're very bad cheats. They think they're getting the sound of an orchestra. It doesn't sound like an orchestra. And anyway, orchestras don't play like that. Those dreadful string sounds they come out with. It's bad cheating. Nobody's fooled.

HK: They also seem to have this totally programmic approach to making "visual music". Do you ever watch The Art Of Landscape on Channel 4? It's all rivers flowing past with rippling piano tinkling. You yourself have always been interested in connections between image, visual things, and music. Is there any particular aspect of this connection you're particularly interested in at the moment?

BE: Yeah. I always flirt with the edges of music. You know, right near here we have Hyde Park. And one of my consistent pleasures of being in London is going and sitting in the middle and just listening. The middle of Hyde Park is quite interesting. Because the Park has quite big roads on each side of it, but they're quite a long way away. In the middle you may be four hundred yards away from all of the roads. I think what you hear in the middle is the average sound of a lot of traffic.I sit and listen for a while. I don't make a religion of it. I just find myself enjoying it.

And there are certain other situations as well which are not musical. Sometimes at airports, the sound of airplanes moving around. If you're outside on the observation desks, and you hear these huge engines screaming as the planes taxi into position. And I often think, yeah, this is all I ever want from music, this kind of experience. So I refer to those things to refresh my musical palette. I have my palette here of things I think I can use to make music with. But I'm often reminded, actually there's a lot more I can use. I work with different types of sound - there's a very interesting graph, a picture in my mind. I read this somewhere. I can't remember where it was now. If you take all the classical orchestral instruments, there's a way of arranging them in terms of purity of sound. Purity of sound means what proportion is noise, and what is pure pitch. So the purest pitched instrument is the flute. Then you go through the wind instruments into the string instruments which start to have a lot of other exotic harmonics and scrapy noises and so on, inharmonic partials they're called. And then you move through those and get into the percussion instruments. You get the pitched percussion instruments like the timpani, tubular bells, things like that. Then you move slowly towards the unpitched ones like cymbals and various ways of making crashes.

If you look at the use of these instruments in music - the purer the instrument the more it's associated with calmness and security and stillness and sweetness, if you like. As you move along this line towards the more noise-based instruments, those are the instruments always used to say emergency, danger, speed, panic, that kind of thing. Now, one of the things that's absolutely awful about New Age is that all the instruments are taken from this first side. This really drives me mad. I hate that much sweetness.

This is actually one of the differences - you asked what's the difference between what I do and what they do. That's one of the differences. My palette is broader. I use a lot of noise-based instruments. Even though the context is quite serene, those instruments do actually - psycho-acoustically they have the feeling of some kind of suspense, at least, sometimes. Well, when I sit and listen to airplanes or the traffic, really I'm exploring that end of the spectrum. And I'm saying I want those kinds of things to be instruments as well. I think it's a transition that's happened in music anyway. People's musical palettes are much much wider than they used to be. If you think just of the way singers used to sing in olden times - as close to a flute as you could get. But now you get singers like Rod Stewart, Mavis Staples - these are singers who have a very big noise-component in their voices. Tom Waits is another good example. There are a lot of singers who've clearly moved the voice a long way over here. That's something classical people just don't understand. Nl they hear is a bad voice. Because their concept of music still involves this little nineteenth century palette, this sweet sound with the occasional bit of drumming to make you a little bit excited. 'Well, the whole African influence on music is to do with bringing in all that side. Ir's not only a rhythmic influence, the obvious. It's an influence to do with how you alter the whole spectrum of sound within music. For me that's actually a deeper revolution than the rhythmic revolution that comes from African music. It's really coloured the way we understand what music is. Fuzz-guitar is another example. A great example of taking a pure-sounding instrument and turning it into something that's full of noise and grit and dirt.

HK: You started off being quite noisy with Here Come The Warm Jets, but since then you have made your noise more and more subtle and understated.

BE: Well, it has a lot to do with your age, you know! Like Heavy Metal is music for nineteen year olds, really. And it's great. It's a great music form.

Heavy Metal is the closest thing to what I do, actually. It's the closest thing to Ambient music, much closer than New Age for example. Because when you go to a Heavy Metal concert, what you do is bathe in sound. It's like walking into a sound. The songs don't matter, they're completely irrelevant. The chord changes don't matter, the beat doesn't matter. It could be anything, you know. But what matters is this fantastic block of noise that you're walking into. It's like diving into an ocean of sound. Well, that's what I hope I'm doing as well.

HK: Isn't there a fundamental difference though? When you go to a Heavy Metal gig, it's also to do with cartoon-figures, heroes of wish-fulfilment. Your music is designed more to help tap into one's own resources to genuinely create and think. There's nothing really to do with cartoon-figures, it's not really figurative at all.

BE: Well, I have a lot of respect for the kinds of choices young people make. I always tend to think they're the right choices. If I don't understand them, then I think it's me who hasn't got the picture right. What I think is happening there is, it's a kind of mythology being acred our. Previous generations may have done that with Batman, or Superman comics or something like that. But you have to think of Heavy Metal as being the musical equivalent of a motorbike. It's a music you jump onto and ride. Mine is more the equivalent of a nice yacht. But it's still meant to be a vehicle of some kind. And I think that people always misunderstand Heavy Metal. They expect it to be music. That's why they always misunderstand Ambient music as well, because they expect it to be music. If you forget that and you start to think of it as environment, as place, as a place you go to - "I go to Heavy Metal", "I go to Ambient" - and you think of it as a condition that you stay in for a while, it's much easier. A lot of problems disappear if you think about it that way.

HK: I'll have to think about that one! Can I ask you about The Shutov Assembly - what does the title refer to? And how does it fit into your scheme of things?

BE: The title refers to a Russian painter, called Shutov, a young contemporary Russian painter. He works in Moscow. He's had a few shows here now in the 'West. The record isn't finished yet. But I see it as a kind of an orchestral - that's not quite the right word - I guess I see it as rather a difficult record really, in that I keep imagining very dense discords. Again I'm interested in this point where discord turns into noise. You know, you can have a three-note chord, C, E and G, say. Now let's add a fourth, fifth, sixth, tenth, thirteenth. Ok, as long as notes still exist on the interval system that we use at the moment, the "equal tempered interval system' that still sounds like a chord. It's a discord, but it still sounds like music. So I started thinking, what happens if you start putting things in between the lines there, and round here, and you make this one wobble up and down. And gradually one's sense of this as composed sound starts to break down. It starts to be de-composed sound. Starts to have this feeling of being something of the real world. I guess that's what I'm trying to move towards there, trying to make it feel less connected with music,, and more connected with other things you might hear. I don't know how far it got - some of it sounds very musical I suppose. I don't know. It's very hard for me to know how that sounds for other people, because I know it quite well by now.

HK: Is there anything you would like to add?

BE: I tell you something I would like to add. What is interesting about New Age music - it's easy to say what's not interesting about it. But what's interesting about it is that it shows that people are listening to music in new ways. Because actually there is something quite revolutionary about that. This is music that doesn't have lyrics, doesn't have a story, doesn't have an image. Nobody knows what these people look like. It's not a presentation based music in the way most rock music is. So it's music that's missed out a lot of the elements the music industry used to believe were essential. "You can't make records like that, they won't sell", they said. So it's broken some rules, and that's quite interesting. Because it shows that listeners have much broader possibilities of listening than we used to think. That's all. A good word about New Age!


In August Brian Eno was invited to participate in the judging of The Voice Of Asia contest at Alma Ata, Kazakhstan in the U.S.S.R., an annual contest in its second year. Unfortunately the Eno/Cale project prevented him from attending, but being very disappointed at having to miss this event, Brian sent a prize to be awarded on his behalf. This was won by a Siberian throat singer from Tuva. Brian wrote the following speech which was presented on his behalf which:

The last decade has seen a huge upsurge of interest in what is now called 'World Music'. The technical reason for this is that records have become available allowing people to participate in the music of other cultures with an ease and breadth that was not possible earlier. But actually that situation has existed for a long time - since the 'ethnic' recordings of the '40s and '50s. But it is only comparatively recently that this has interested more than a handful of specialists.

I believe that this new, widening popularity results from something other than simple availability. One of these factors is the increasing ability of people to listen to songs without being concerned to know what they mean: so that the 'language barrier', in the past always cited as the main reason that 'ethnic' music could not become popular, has suddenly fallen. It now seems that nobody minds if Salif Keita sings in Arabic, Youssou N'Dour in Wolof and Zvuki Mu in Russian. Perhaps this means that people are listening to music now, rather than specifically to songs: perhaps it also means that the composers and musicians of the world are making new forms of music that do not depend on language as much as they used to.

But perhaps a more important reason is the breakdown of a picture of the world that says: "We, and our values, are the hub, the norm, the centre, and everyone else is a kind of aberration from us". Of course this view would lead one to regard other musics as, at best, curiously exotic and at worst, proof of all the nasty things people like to think about each other. And then, within this 'us and them' distinction, there was another subdivision. Our version of it was called the Western Classical tradition, and it maintained that there was High Music - the type that the people who wrote the history books liked - and then there was all the rest, the stuff that everyone else liked. This picture maintained that innovation always worked from the top downwards - that the pure ideas of the great composers found their way, in degenerate form, into the popular music , and that, therefore, these popular musics were necessarily dilute and comparatively less 'valuable' and 'enduring'. Occasionally there was an acknowledgement that this flow could be reversed - Kodaly and Bartok, for example, borrowed from rural folk-dances - but then it was assumed that the raw material of folk culture would be enhanced and ennobled in the hands of a great composer.

Distinctions of this kind are interesting because they notify us about the limits of our empathy. If we really have no feeling whatsoever for the music that so deeply moves somebody else, surely this indicates that there is a part of their psyche that is closed to us. How important is that part? What does music represent in this sense? Take a particular case : what does it tell you about somebody that they begin to like, for example, West African music? Well, it tells you that their focus of attention as a listener is starting to shift. Nigerian music downplays harmony and melody in favour of extremely rich and complex rhythmic meshes. These engage a different part of you: they are extremely physical, sexual and movement-oriented. They deal with the body, an area that Western Classical Music, for example, rarely addresses. When a listener is moved by this music, she is allowing herself to accept the idea that her body is a fit focus for artistic attention: she is saying (in the words of the artist Peter Schmidt) that the body is the large brain. Our cultures, which have made such a big distinction between 'men of action' and 'men of thought', might find this hard to accept: all our hierarchies are based upon it: the idea that the brain is good and the body inferior. I believe that, in the process of being moved by Nigerian music, you begin to empathise with a view of the universe, another picture of how things work and how they tit together. And in noticing how you have the capacity to empathise with that, perhaps you make the further step and begin to suppose that their cultural values are also 'possible' for you. It doesn't mean that you are going to become Nigerian, but it might mean that you can begin to get a feeling of what it is like to be Nigerian, what kind you might be looking at, through what kind of eyes.

It would be naive to assume that this broadening of understanding automatically leads to something like world peace. (It is, after all, standard operating behaviour in the subversion industry to know your enemy at the deepest cultural levels so that you can eliminate him!) No, I wouldn't make any such happy predictions - understanding, like a knife, has many uses.

My hope for the future is not that everyone will sit around the lunar campfire discussing, in Esperanto, the bad old days of division and strife. I wouldn't expect that. What I want to see is the demise of fundamentalism in favour of pragmatism.

By fundamentalism I mean any philosophy that thinks it has the final and unique answer, that believes that there is one essential plan underlying the workings of the universe, and which seeks to make sure everyone else gets persuaded to fall in line with it.

By pragmatism I mean improvisation: the belief that there are many approaches, that whatever works in the light of our present knowledge is a good course of action, and that what is the best course of action for us, here and now, might not be for someone else, there or then.

I want to see societies (and people) who know how to improvise, who can throw together a social mode (- Tuxedo and Black Thai -) just for the evening, who can move fluently and easily between different social and personal vocabularies as the situation changes, who don't feel lost without the religious reassurance of 'thisism' and 'thatism'. I see these people as hunter/ gatherers in the great flux of the world's cultures, enjoying a rich diet of ideas and techniques and styles, creating their own special mixes. There is no snobbism in this picture - no material too common or too exotic to be used, no simple distinction between real and make-believe. This kind of improvisational flexibility entails a continuous questioning of boundaries and categories, a refusal to accept that names fit accurately onto what is being named.

So this contest is called Voice Of Asia. That's good: we haven't heard much of that voice before. When languages are developing and changing as rapidly as they do now, and everyone is a rap artist, you need all the voices you can get.

I must say I have no idea what to expect from this contest: Soviet Asia is much more of a mystery to a Western listener than deepest Africa. For this reason I am very upset not to be able to attend this festival personally, but I shall look forward to hearing the tapes, seeing the videos and learning the songs of your world. Thank you for listening to me.


In October Roger Eno, Michael Brook and Laraaji appeared as part of a series of concerts at the Lope de Vega Theatre in Seville, Spain. The programme included Philip Glass, Anvo Pärt, Kronos Quartet, Loose Tubes and the Michael Nyman Band.

Earlier this year, Roger Eno and Francois Elie Roulin performed at Salle Paul Fort in Nantes, France. It was the first time Roger Eno had appeared in concert in France. The whole event was a great success, as can be seen from this translation of a review by Paul Legonie:

Contemporary Instrumental Musicwas the name of the event, Nantes (a typical provincial town thirty miles away from the Atlantic coast) was the location, May 31, 1990 was the day, Francois Elie Roulin and Roger Eno were the artists. It looked pretty much like a French Opal Evening premiere, for the quality of its many cultural activities, such as English designer Vaughn Oliver's very successful exhibition/installation in February and March 1990 (attended by eight thousand visitors), dance performances, theatre creations or the forthcoming La Fura Dels Baus show scheduled for next Autumn.

Advertised as "...what might well be a disclosure of the sonic landscape for the years to come by Catherine Nivez on her dally national radio program Culture Club, this concert was indeed not ordinary, if only because of the personalities of Francois Elie Roulin - whose debut album Disque Rouge has been highly acclaimed since its release last February - and of Roger Eno whose impressionist style influenced by early twentieth century composers Satie or Debussy had never been heard on any French stage before. An intriguing concert too as it seemed, by reading the press, that no one really knew exactly what to expect from musicians hard to pigeonhole in any categories but their own...

Of course, the unavoidable New Age ghost showed up here and there in its role of "the easy drawer" (where you pile in what you have no other drawer for) but the concert made it clear there's an effort of imagination needed if you're not just satisfied by writing that Roulin doesn't fit anywhere as Eno (Roger in that particular case) doesn't either. But the old "Don't tell my mother I'm into New Age, she thinks I am a musician" line proved totally irrelevant there unless the terminology includes know-how and inspiration, austerity and fun, mystery and emotion, depth and lightness, avant-garde tradition, electronics and acoustics plus all the conceivable fire versus ice data or opposites attract, blah-blah-blah, you could think of to resume Roulin's forty minute set and Eno's sixty-five minute performance.

Francois Elie Roulin's stage experience with his band - would you call such a nice assembly of first-class female instrumentalists a band by the way? - is still quite limited since Nantes was only their third public appearance, but all of them, master composer on synthesizer, Marie-Christine Martini on violin, Ursula Richter on cello and Elisabeth Valletti on harp, vocal and what looked like some giant curved straws largely deserved the warm response they got from a very open audience, showing a rare degree of attention all through the evening.

From re-affanged versions of pieces from Disque Rouge - the title track, Gunghi, Camogli, Corpi Celesti (the latter a most impressive passage in a universe of uplifting solemnity) - to new compositions like the opening number with its extraordinary rhythmic appeal or Sud with its shining melody and haunting strings, Roulin confirmed his ever-growing reputation is deserved. How long will it take ro reach the public ear is another question as, despite the flamboyant back curtain (an enlargement of Russell Mills' original painting for the Disque Rouge cover) and subtle lighting ideas, the actual live performance is more of a "close your eyes and enjoy our dream world" thing, reinforced by the near to perfection clarity of the sound - no complaint here - and the minimalist attitude of the musicians.

Though I'm not suggesting he puts the harp and player on roller skates or asking Monsieur Roulin for frontstage poses, one certainly wishes the visuals would match the fullness and movement of the music from beginning to end, as it did in moments of grace, when a sudden and perfect conjugation between inputs to the senses literally immersed your whole being into some kind of amazing joy. Sounds a bit mystical for sure, but isn't that what soul music is all about!

Then came Roger Eno, dancing around the stage swinging a fluorescent pink yo-yo with the right hand carrying piles of scores in the other... much to the surprise of an audience waiting for the "gentleman composer" announced in the programme and much to the surprise of the four members from I'Ensemble Instrumental de Roze, a local string quartet of high reputation and whose chamber music, classical and contemporary repertoire includes Mozart, Satie, Poulence, Britten and now... Roger Eno.

Who revealed himself to be an hilarious character introducing each new piece with weird comments or funny tales about the why and how, establishing an immediate complicity with an audience who was to burst into laughter more than once and often applauded Roger's narrations as much as the music itself. No doubt the man is warm at heart and so were the pieces performed, even when shadowed by what you'd call some tangible melancholy teasing of your emotional system.

In concert as on records, Roger Eno's music has an aerial quality to it, something of a cloud of milk Ln a cup of sky, something that touches you lightly - as if not to disturb - but that leaves subtle traces of good times... And strangely enough, you wished some of the new compositions played that evening had been 'encored', right on the spot, exactly as you'd go back to your favourite tracks on an album like Voices. Among those, a very moving Irial's Tango for piano and string quartet and a smashing breath-taking piece for strings called Invention Of The Cross, definitely the most beautiful work of Roger's I've ever heard - and a concert highlight for sure according to the passionate audience reaction in which the "man of impressions,, and first class joker suddenly unveiled a spirited visionary. How long shall we wait before we hear those on your next album Mister Eno?


During the spring Brian worked at Real World Studios, Wiltshire, England as producer to Ugandan singer Geoffrey Oryema. The resulting album Exile was released by Real World on September 10 to excellent reviews, including:

...Gabriel's vocal contributions are a natural follow on from his work with Youssou N'Dour, and the African experience integrates easily with his own work. Perhaps more surprising is that this Ugandan singer/songwriter has Brian Eno producing his LP. Gabriel guitarist David Rhodes on six-string and Dave Bottrill on percussion. No danger of Oryema's material being uncomfortably Europeanized by any of them though. They all adapt to him, and the album remains vividly African.

- Paul Sexton, Select

We thought we should give our readers some background information about this fascinating artist. The following is printed courtesy of Real World:

ExilePolitics , particularly the politics of repression, is familiar as raw material for the singer-songwriter, but few have had the experiences that motivate Geoffrey Oryema. At the age of twenty-four, at the height of Amin's power, Oryema had to be smuggled across the border in the boot of a car, following the death of his father, a prominent government minister, in a mysterious 'car accident', thus beginning a life of exile. But before all this...

Oryema grew up surrounded by music to an extent it's difficult for most of us to imagine: his father played the nanga, a seven-stringed harp; his mother directed the Ugandan dance troupe, The Heartbeat Of Africa; and his grandfather and uncles were all storytellers and musicians. "When I would go up country in the holidays, in the evening we had some fire out there, there would be storytelling, poetry reading and nanga playing." And it all rubbed off. While still in his teens, Oryema learned to play the nanga, the guitar, the lukeme (thumb piano) , and later the flute: somewhere in there he started writing songs as well.

And there was no shortage of material on that front. The politics which would eventually drive Oryema from his homeland surrounded him as a young boy: "We had to live on a day to day basis, and the fact that we could actually see in the daytime - you'd see people being shot and being put in the boot of a car." His subsequent exile has been the theme of many of the songs he has written since (Makambo, Solitude, and Exile) and has also given him the emotional distance to write about his homeland with absolute clarity.

Today his songs keep alive the languages of his youth - Swahili and Acoli - and the folklore he learned when surrounded by storytellers, poets and singers at home.

"Music accompanies everything in my culture. There is music for digging in your garden, to accompany the dead to their final resting place; if there is a visit by a head of state it will be sung about. This music is not dead; it will never die. It'.is constantly changing, renewing itself. I even hear music when I am fixing a bug in a computer."

The songs in which Geoffrey explores his feelings since leaving Uganda return continually to that lost country - the 'clear green land' in which all they invested of their lives and dreams was shattered.

On Exile, his debut LP, Oryema is joined by Peter Gabriel - a big fan - on backing vocals. Brian Eno on keyboards and vocals, Gabriel's guitarist David Rhodes, and David Bottrill on percussion. But what makes the album really special is Brian Eno's production, which lifts the album from the level of a field recording of a highly accomplished Ugandan singer-musician to that of a remarkable debut from someone destined for much bigger things.

In June Brian re-arranged, re-recorded and produced the single Take It For Granted for Carmel.

On September 25, Brian opened his second Japanese installation in as many years. Titled Natural Selection, it took place in Toyota's new headquarters in Ikebukero, Tokyo. The new building, Amlux, consists of four floors of vehicle showrooms, manufacturing displays and novel cafes and bars, eight floors of offices and one floor devoted to holding exhibitions, concerts and other events. It is on this floor that the installation was held and was the first event to take place there.

A large white screen was constructed at one end of the room on to which Brian projected images using eight slide projectors each dissolving and changing in an erratic and unpredictable fashion. The result was a patchwork of images, some recognisable objects, others totally abstract, interchanging and developing before the audience. The other end of the room showed six new video sculptures constructed specially for the installation, five of these were grouped together while the sixth, a much smaller sculpture, sat to one side. The music for the show incorporated some new pieces from The Shutov Assembly and some natural sounds recorded while Brian was last in Japan at Tenkawa (see issue 13)

From November 2nd to December 2nd Brian will be holding an exhibition in Montreal, Canada. This will be his first installation in this country since 1984 in Toronto. The venue for this event is Gallerie Lavalin.

After Montreal Brian will return to England to continue recording. His next release will be an instrumental collection, tentatively entitled The Shutov Assembly, scheduled for release in early 1991. More details will be in our next issue.



Daniel lanois is working with both U2 and Peter Gabriel on their forthcoming albums, and is also preparing his own second solo release.


This summer John Paul Jones travelled to Barcelona to produce an album for the Spanish band La Fura Dels Baus for Virgin Records, Spain, which he then went on to mix at Real World Studios near Bath. We will be printing more on this project in the next issue.


Set, the album Michael Brook produced for Youssou N'Dour, has received very good reviews:

After last year's disappointing sales of The Lion, N'Dour's somewhat westernised Virgin debut, Set, is a crucial record indeed for African music. The genre is still looking for a bona fide crossover star - but the news is good. Produced by Eno collaborator Michael Brook, Set has an effervescent, live atmosphere, as well as stretching N'Dour's talent.

- Music Week

... Set continues where The Lion left off and you realize how limiting the term 'dance music' is when confronted with an album like this... Each of Set's thirteen tracks evokes a different atmosphere but the binding instrument is always Youssou's vocal, constantly uplifting and displaying a dexterity capable of gently guiding the story dance ballad Xale or belting the choruses to Miyoko.

- Rockford, Sounds

As mentioned in Opal Information 16, Michael has also produced an album for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, entitled Mustt Mustt, which will be released by Real World at the end of October.

"I'd really hoped we could show a more delicate side of Nusrat's singing. I love all the fireworks and the heavy metal solos that he does, but I thought it would be nice to bring out a slower, more introspective component. I think we covered the spectrum".

- Michael Brook.



From the end of October John Cale will be playing some European venues. The dates are:

Octoberspacer20 La Cigalle, Paris, France
spacer21 Le Transbordeur, Lyon, France
spacer25 Art Rock Festival, Saint-Brieuc, France
Novemberspacer3 Le Carre, Amsterdam, Holland
spacer4 Groningen, Holland
spacer28 Les Caves du Manoir, Martigny, Switzerland
spacer29 Le Domino, Schauffhausen, Switzerland
spacer30 Mad, Lausanne, Switzerland
Decemberspacer 1 Le New, Geneva, Switzerland


On November 11 Michael will play at The Town and Country Club, London. Also appearing that night will be 4AD's Dead Can Dance.


From October 9 to 23 Brian Eno will do a series of "in conversation" evenings throughout the USA. With the exception of a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the evenings will take the form of Brian talking with local radio presenters before an audience. Brian enjoys the flexible format of these "in conversation'" events, as they usually open up more areas of thought, and present more opportunity for exploring new topics than a pre-written lecture.

The dates and venues are:

Octoberspacer9 Wadsworth Theater, Los Angeles
spacer11 Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
spacer13 Washington Hall, Performing Gallery, Seattle
spacer15 Park Vest Theater, Chicago
spacer20 Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis
spacer21 Museum Of Fine Art, Boston
spacer23 Museum Of Modern Art

We received a number of comments on the general layout and design of the last issue, in particular from America. We had one letter from Erich Hobbing in New York saying he thought the last issue was "unclean in appearance and difficult to read." 'We agreed with Mr. Hobbing and have now reverted to the previous typeface for this issue. However, Opal information, like Opal itself, is constantly changing, adapting, experimenting and being re-thought. This is not likely to change in the future and we will continue to make alterations as we go along. Therefore, we thank Mr. Hobbing for his letter and welcome any other comments on the magazine's appearance, text and photographs.