INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Arts Desk MARCH 18, 2020 - by TIM CUMMING
ROGER AND BRIAN ENO: MIXING COLOURS
Absolute ambience from the pioneers of the form
Perhaps remarkably, given both their careers as pioneers and inspirations in the world of ambient music, but this is the first duo album from brothers Brian and Roger Eno - although fans will treasure their music as a trio with Daniel Lanois on 1983's marvellous Apollo. Thirty-seven years on, and the ambient topography of Mixing Colours isn't a million miles from the lunar landing point of that earlier ambient classic, with Roger Eno composing a bouquet of pretty, pollinating keyboard melodies, whose quiet impact subtly changes the air like a late-summer scent, while brother Brian attends to their sound palettes, digitally and electronically spraying and pruning and adding his own sense of the epic and the infinite to these intimate melodies of serious sweetness and burnished melancholy.
The brothers started working on this set of sound colours in a relaxed, ad hoc fashion that suits its ambience. Some fifteen years ago, Roger Eno began intermittently sending files of short new MIDI keyboard compositions over to Brian, on to work his magic at his leisure. It soon became what he describes as "a back-and-forth conversation we were having over a fifteen year period. I'd wake up, go straight upstairs, put my equipment on and improvise, then I sent things to Brian that I thought he might be interested in. The idea for a full album emerged as the number of pieces kept increasing and the results kept being interesting. It's something that neither of us could have arrived at alone".
All but one of the eighteen pieces, exquisite miniatures all, are named after colours, from Burnt Umber to Verdigree via Cinnabar, Cerulean Blue and (my favourite track) Dark Sienna - how's that for your World of Interiors colour scheme? Evocative of the bruised emotional sweetness and limpid, slightly otherworldly yearning we associate with late Schubert, the tonal range across Mixing Colours combines to create a music experience of profound stillness and calm, and that works very well on repeat - in fact, the perfect soundtrack to self-isolate by in these unprecedented times.