INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Sunday Times OCTOBER 4, 2009 - by Tony Barrell
THE BRITISH POP GENIUS WHO BEAMED INTO AMERICAN SCI-FI
In 1974, the American writer Philip Dick thought he might be in touch with God, or a God-like entity. It was a fitting development for a man who had long questioned the nature of reality, and whose stories became visionary films such as Blade Runner and Minority Report. In his 1981 novel, Valis, the author himself becomes aware of a divine orbiting satellite, or Vast Active Living Intelligence System. We meet Brent Mini, an electronics genius and writer of "Synchronicity Music" who is part of a Valis-based sect. Mini is based on Brian Eno, whose 1975 album, Discreet Music, was often on Dick's turntable. A founding member of Roxy Music and father of "ambient music", Eno has brought sonic magic to the work of many artists including David Bowie, U2 and Coldplay. Curiously, the Valis/Eno connections have multiplied since Dick's death in 1982. The book refers to the Greek god Apollo - the title of a 1983 Eno album. Brent Mini says he hears "The sound of bells" when he encounters Valis - and a 2003 Eno album consists entirely of bell sounds. In the novel, Dick relates a real episode in which he imagined "modern abstract paintings, literally tens of millions of them in rapid succession." This sounds uncannily like Eno's recent software release, 77 Million Paintings, which brings a dazzling random sequence of ever-changing paintings to your computer screen. Eno claimed in an early interview that he was from the planet Xenon. Maybe he wasn't joking.