INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Mac Life NOVEMBER 17, 2008 - by Kevin Kelly
Music really is another language.
Brian Eno is a musician and producer who has been associated with ambient music for so long that he practically devised that genre. He has created music ranging from the beautifully melancholic album Music For Airports to the Windows 95 Startup Sound. (Microsoft paid him thirty-five thousand dollars for that three-and-a-quarter second snippet of music.) This time, Eno has partnered with musical composer and programmer Peter Chilvers and created Bloom, and he calls it, "A music box for the twenty-first century."
Bloom works two ways: you create musical patterns yourself, or you can let it make music for you. Tapping the screen plays single chimes that sound like an ethereal piano. These blossom across the screen into concentric circles, and as you chain notes together, Bloom will start playing those back and altering them. Before long it will be playing something that has evolved from your own tune. Alternatively, if you leave it alone it will start creating music randomly. The music is haunting and beautiful, although it would have been really nice to hear a larger variety of sounds.
Options control the delay between patterns and if the music should evolve or not. You can also freeze the current pattern so it will continue playing, or pick from one of the nine different moods, which are bafflingly named after resins and scents. These change the colour of the screen and slightly alter the musical notes. You can also turn on "Shake to clear" which will scrub all the notes from Bloom and start from a blank slate when you rattle the iPhone.
While it might seem gimmicky at first, Bloom works best when you tinker with it and then let it sit there by itself. Soon it will create mood music that is perfect for reading, relaxing, or just spacing out. It doesn't aim to be a fully-fledged synthesizer and succeeds by being simple.