INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Long Live Vinyl JANUARY 2019 - by Wyndham Wallace
BRIAN ENO: AMBIENT REISSUES
In 1975, following a car accident, Brian Eno found himself confined to bed, when a friend visited, leaving music playing out of reach at a volume so inaudible it blended with the noise of the musician's surroundings. For some, this would be aggravating. For Eno, it was inspiration: from it was born his genre-defining idea of 'ambient music'. This wasn't entirely novel: composer Erik Satie had devised a similar concept - 'furniture music' - some six decades earlier, and there'd been other musicians since who, albeit unconsciously, operated in similar fields. But Discreet Music's liner notes made it the first record to identify the notion, and its thirty-minute title track remains the form's high-water mark.
Exploring - to use another typically Eno-esque term - "generative composition", this game-changer employed two simple synth melodies of different lengths to create an ever-evolving soundscape of deliberately inconspicuous but hypnotic beauty, making the decision to split this half-speed remaster over two sides of vinyl regrettably disturbing. It was accompanied by three similarly fascinating tracks, arranged for strings by Gavin Bryars, which applied the same technique to excerpts from Pachelbel's Canons. These, though, lacked the original's serenity, for which head to 1978's Music For Airports, especially 1/1, with its intermingling piano and soft synths, and 1/2, which utilised vocal harmonies alone. In between, 1976's Music For Films offered shorter tranquil vignettes, anticipating Eno's work on Bowie's Low, not least M386 and the Sparrowfall trilogy - while 1982's On Land cannibalised earlier recordings, adding found sounds, plus, on Shadow, Jon Hassell's trumpet, to sometimes more sinister ends.