posted on November 10, 2007 at 11:36 pm

brian peter george st.baptiste de la salle eno
an important cat
to be sure
eno was having an extraordinary decade
he would also of course
weigh in as co producer/conceptualist
for bowies incredible trilogy
low heroes the lodger
(although i am not so fond of lodger)
of course not having been there myself
what i say is mere speculation but
to me bowie and eno seem a nice combo
the all instrumental side of lows got enos hand everywhere
but mr bowie was no slouch either
and its seems a pretty much half half collaboration
as enos familiar motifs are given more light and shade
bowies beautiful languageless singing on subterraneans
years before sigur ros
although slightly after german band magma
who sang in their own gothic language…
one of my favourite pieces of music bar none:
crystal japan from these sessions
but these pieces were instrumentals but not ambient
although the feeling of ambience was at all the corners
of course
there is no clear line where music becomes ambient
one mans ambient is another mans new age is another mans satie
intention is all here
eno enabled bowie i guess
assisted and encouraged him
to mine a strange alien vein
untouched in rock at this point
very few people understood low at the time
reliable critic charles shaar murray
a big fan of db up until here
dismissed low with something like:
bowie and eno should trade tapes in the post
and spare us this stuff…
i loved it
it pioneered more frontiers in the 1st song
than most people do in a lifetime
in 1975
eno released discreet music
theres a blurb on the back
with diagrams of this and that
the music consists of a synth phrase
several phrases
interpenetrating each other
dying away slowly
the effect is serene detachment
like the tao turned into music
it was partially randomly generated
it should be listened to as quietly as possible
listening to it loud is doing it a disservice
let it blend in
let it float
do not concentrate on it too much
meditate to it
let it open doors in your memory
enjoy its subtlety and peaceful humility
a beautiful track and a first
the rest of the album is some cut up neo classic music
not bad
but not really ambient as such
next up
eno made the exquisitely titled
before and after science
to tell you the truth
only the last four songs approach some level of ambience
cluster join eno for by this river
at the time no music in rock was like this
even the songs julie with…
spider and i
as ambient as songs can possibly be
rock up until this point had been pretty me me me
it was all about me the ego the rocksinger
even eno himself on his earlier records
but he begins to disinhabit his songs as he goes along
eventually on spider and i
becoming a nirvana like emptiness
where things happen in a prolonged slo mo haze
we sleep in the morning
we dream of a ship that sails away
a thousand miles away..
through hollow lands is dedicated to harold budd
with whom eno would make 2 albums
the last four tracks on this record are sublime
music for airports came next
recordings of voices
randomly cut/fade
soothing hanging austere
yoga music
in 1986
i always did my yoga to this
totally different to discreet
the critics didnt lap it up much
some long forgotten critic criticised
the instrumentals on unearthed sneering
kilbeys music for dentists waiting rooms
it was, after all
a back handed compliment
eno was proposing that instead of the piped elevator music
or even worse nowadays
the latest idol winners super melodramatic maudlin schlock
we have real calming uplifting thought provoking sounds
oh eno if only if only if only
i envisage a world full of buildings with murals
the pavements decorated with chalk paintings
the cafes serving vegan food and mother natures own herbs
and the airports
ah the people would be proceeding thoughtfully
as this music drifted through the queues and the kisses goodbye
as this music permeates the luggage handlers and the hostesses
amazing stuff
actually named ambient 1 : music for airports
music for films
instrumental pieces and snippets for films as yet unmade
ironically you do hear this music in tv shows a lot these days
lovely pieces usually sad or sombre
some even approaching non ambience
in that they do demand your attention
because they are very tasty
the album still has a couple of downright edgy things like
patrolling wire borders
quite un-ambient in a way
as is a measured room
with its pulsating bass like a chase scene
but confusingly the title
music for films implies a continuation
of the series which music for airports implies
by being ambient one
funny i never realised this before but there is no ambient two
there is three and four but no two
and music for films is only partially ambient
but recommended
a borderline case of ambience
tracks like strange light however
are like discreet music but shorter
and a little more painted in perhaps
eno released fourth world vol 1: possible musics
with jon hassell the trumpeter
note the album is credited
jon hassell and brian eno
this is music you never heard before
the first time i heard the treated trumpet sound
primal hot pulsing music
unrelenting random blowing african tropical raining music
villages in the deluge
arrows fly in the teeming air
drunk on jungle juice and hallucinatin’ with malaria n ibogaine
threatening eyes in the trees
dark swollen rivers with sharp toothed teeth
meet a medicine man witch doctor raving shaman music
hassells almost unrecognizable trumpet like a stoned bird
cooing coaxing
the percussion clicks away tinny and insistent
the trumpet sounds like a voice is trying to break free
to be born and sing
singing in indonesian or in incan or ethiopian or something
not for everyone
one of my favourite records
for listening for yoga
for atmosphere
for any occaision
mysterious music
probably not ambient
worthy of your praise

tomorrow : ambient conclusion

38 Responses to “short treatment on ambient music:part 2 (with rumbling appendices)”

  1. avatar
    craig1.618 | 11 November 2007 at 2:07 am #

    i must admit i don’t own any of eno’s music

    god….i almost feel stupid in sharing that

    i feel as though i’ve missed the boat

    as for the treated trumpet sound…..the closest i can imagine would be the trumpet on “birthday” by the sugarcubes

  2. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 2:18 am #

    i’ve just been listening to ‘under stars’ by eno and ‘the pearl’ by harold budd and eno….aaahhhhh…..
    love always
    -The Hellbound Heart

  3. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 11 November 2007 at 2:31 am #

    I loved Eno’s Another Green World and respect him immensely. Three great obscure ambient CD’s are Voodoo Chile (Moby) “The End Of Everthing” (melancholic and spiritual), The Firemen-Rushes (Youth and Macca) and Gilt Trip (Russell P. and S Kilbey). Best autobiographical songs i heard today are “Trouble Loves Me” and “Now I Am A Was”. Thanks Morrissey-U seem 2 no me !

  4. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 2:33 am #

    haha! mr.craig 1.345.36321.//….i r am getting an education here as well.!thank-you Steven!…but now it seems that my shopping list for music is getting longer n longer…i am going to need a new house to fit all of the stuff in.i did obviously miss some of the music that you are talking about.i am finding it enticing and can never have too much music..JUNGLE . YES YEEEHAH!dance to jungle beats!wow wow wow wowsers!now thats cool…ambient jungle would be an interesting expression of movement..i wonder how it would look as a colour scheme?shake your hands as fast as you can,then..shake them faster,and then faster…now,faster….stop…now put on your ambient music!..the emotions the music invokes upon first listenings,is your lot to delve into with the piece of music…a purple cup!an orange glass,a blue plate,a green pen….wooooops!..coming back down to mother earth.what are me worth…more than 6peaches!…oh,dear…my brainz are truly warped 2day…see ya on the flipside,my friendz…have a smashingly spectacular sunday sk!…please keep teaching us about your music.its just brilliant ..and fascinating..and such a great buzzzz of “actually interesting”information{i do have the goons,and hitch-hikers on audio,but you can only listen to that sort of thing a few times a year before they become a bore.and alot of the other options for listening “pleasure”{or so they call it}leave alot to be desired,and besides it cuts into my music world} much love,as always,gen xxxxxx

  5. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 3:08 am #

    Thanks for an excellent summary of ambience. A few notes:

    * Before and After Science.

    * Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (Budd/Eno)

    Looking forward to the conclusion.


  6. avatar
    veleska1970 | 11 November 2007 at 3:48 am #

    “singing in indonesian or in incan or ethiopian or something”
    i love listening to foreign languages being sung. it’s other-worldly, excuse the pun.

    awaiting the conclusion.

    lotza love…

  7. avatar
    veleska1970 | 11 November 2007 at 3:49 am #

    to brien~~glad you decided to stay put. 🙂

  8. avatar
    Thelonious | 11 November 2007 at 4:19 am #

    Thanks SK. I always enjoy you discussing music. Have you seen or read about Eno’s most recent project 77 million paintings, a computer generated visual & music thing?

  9. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 11 November 2007 at 6:15 am #

    Sorry Sk for this extra comment. The ORB (Dr. Alex Paterson) is one hell of an ambient legend who has been forgotten by the media. The live ORB 1993 is a must buy CD for all ambient fans. Veleska, Andy (the cool dude of Neptum,)Davem, SK, Ethereal Butterfly and other benign commentors, I never left. I love SK. He’s more talented than John Lennon and he’s an animal loving vegetarian like Macca. His Gilt Trip Ambient CD’s r the best. Does anybody like Enya!!! She’s a reclusive fox and a great mind that lives in a huge Castle in Ireland. She’s ” A Keeper”. I think her music is ambient and celestial!

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 6:45 am #

    Im glad you mentioned satie.
    Also you got in the Tao, harold budd & hassel (one of my favourite records also)
    What a great cast of characters and ideas Eno has used.

    The book by David Toop called “Ocean of sound” tries to put all this stuff into context, explain where it fit’s in , really worth a read.
    Also David Toops records are worth a listen, they sound just like SK’s lovely vivid word description-

    “unrelenting random blowing african tropical raining music
    villages in the deluge
    arrows fly in the teeming air
    drunk on jungle juice and hallucinatin’ with malaria n ibogaine
    threatening eyes in the trees
    dark swollen rivers with sharp toothed teeth
    meet a medicine man witch doctor raving shaman music”

    I think Eno’s genius is that even though he is a true intellectual he always comes back to
    “loose your mind follow your behind”, that old disco chestnut kind of sums him up.


  11. avatar
    Jen Jewel Brown | 11 November 2007 at 7:14 am #

    Whoa, yeah, had forgotten about the Bowie trilogy. Low completely floored me. It is utterly, utterly amazing to make love to. It takes you to a place like in the womb where you float and are utterly primal and defenceless, and completely supported and connected to all life and joyful. It makes me wonder and cry with its beauty and soulful relaxation… It’s full of ease and grace

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 7:17 am #

    the man of om bee ounce was in the house.ha-ha!hee-hee!love it SK!

  13. avatar
    Centuryhouse | 11 November 2007 at 7:26 am #

    Ah, great blog!

    “APOLLO” is my FAVORITE Eno album, just fantastic stuff. LOVE IT. “Shutov Assembly” is another favorite.

    Though it’s more energetic and rhythmically agressive, “Nerve Net” is fascinating and enjoyable too. It actually comes in around 2nd place on my “favorite Eno” list.

    The “Music For Films” and “Music For Airports” stuff is cool too, but I like the others I mentioned best. The stuff he did with Fripp like “No Pussyfooting” is good too.

    I’ve got a book (next to a Bowie biography coincidentally) called “Brian Eno: His Music & The Vertical Color Of Sound” that’s an interesting read about his ideas & process.

    Again, good blog!

    Daniel W.

  14. avatar
    ambient ai in time so space, spacemen, spacebrothers, spacestuff, whay is stuff, realism? | 11 November 2007 at 8:04 am #

    my taste for the ambient,
    true ambient – goddess forbid –
    reaching into that ‘newist-age’ ambience
    sorta thing is…

    (i have a term for that, but it escapes me at the moment)

    “Dream Time Returns”
    Steve Roach

    kinda left over
    from the
    “Tangerine Dream” epoc

    l u f

  15. avatar
    Ethereal Butterfly | 11 November 2007 at 8:28 am #

    Yeah Brian I’m an Enya fan 2! How ya doin? It’s a great vibe for all of us that you never left! Does anyone know ‘The Smallgoods’? I am listening to their ‘Down by the Farm’ album at the mo and can’t quite categorise their music – folk with ambience and psychedelic? Lovely listening….
    Today’s blog got me thinking re music for film…….my father has worked in the record industry since dinosaurs tapped their feet; Astor (remember them?), EMI and now works for what must be one of Australia’s leading film &TV production labels in Melb ( won’t mention their name here). I can feed their talent scout original compositions if anyone is interested in this (gather there are a few musos here, & am sure Killa wouldn’t need this sorta help) I’ll put my email address on my blog for those that are…

  16. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 9:38 am #

    thank-you . :-)=*

  17. avatar
    fantasticandy | 11 November 2007 at 10:45 am #

    vastly superior to any of this stuff
    is ‘jammed’ by our very own church.
    an amorphous, swirling musical conundrum….too powerful to be ambient…yet employing most of the techniques usualy found in the genre.
    but then ..i’m biased anyway.
    that’s why i’m here.
    my advice…get ‘jammed’!
    worry about eno another day.

    i think eno’s cool too.
    but not at the expence of an incomplete church collection.
    sales pitch over!
    love, love, love,
    andy L.

    p.s. steve… fave is ‘needle in the camels eye’.

  18. avatar
    tv | 11 November 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    the boat has sailed, boredom prevails

  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    cor, I couldn’t pick my favourite eno track…too many to love……lots of memories….but he linked me back then to a dude recorded a drunk under a bridge in england singing “jesus blood never failed me yet”, which was an ambient loop… who was that?

    oh, and not forgetting my prizes vinyl 7 inch ….Wimoweh bw The Seven Deady Fins by Eno …yode lay e hoo!


  20. avatar
    Rimbaud coming to the rescue | 11 November 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

    In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song – sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads – and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”. This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.

    When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song – 13 bars in length – formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.

    I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man’s singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.

    The piece was originally recorded on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975 and a substantially revised and extended version for Point Records in 1993. The version which is played by my ensemble was specially created in 1993 to coincided with this last recording.

    Gavin Bryars.

    play an extract (582Kb)

    a link to a Russian translation of the article and a short story inspired by the piece and written by one of Gavin’s fans (also in Russian):

  21. avatar
    davem | 11 November 2007 at 5:10 pm #

    Well said AndyL. Nothing quite compares to anything the inimitable Mr Kilbey has been involved with.
    Love to all.

  22. avatar
    nickfiction | 11 November 2007 at 6:54 pm #


  23. avatar
    veleska1970 | 11 November 2007 at 8:02 pm #

    “Well said AndyL. Nothing quite compares to anything the inimitable Mr Kilbey has been involved with.”

    ain’t that da truth!!!

  24. avatar
    Peter Podcast | 11 November 2007 at 8:19 pm #

    Love Eno.
    He’s The Man.
    Back to another topic.
    Without wanting to add fuel to the fire.

    This is interesting.

    This is a must see too.

  25. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 9:34 pm #

    Thanks for that article Peter Podcast, I’m so glad I made the switch (thanks to your brother), but after reading that, I’ll have to go a step further and cut out the milky stuff too, which means my favourite food…ICECREAM! 🙁
    Love Amanda

  26. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 10:43 pm #

    good morning Amanda!…dont worry about losing out on ice cream! vegan ice cream,theres bound to be at least some stockists,or recipes,and if all else fails…i’ve got 101 recipes in my head for sweet vegan schtuffe!…have a gorgeous day all…wanna make a wish?best witshes to you Mister K! xxxxxx love,genx

  27. avatar
    the dean | 11 November 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    I often wondered with the remaster of unearthed that you didn’t release a version with the poetry read with the music.

  28. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 November 2007 at 11:22 pm #

    “the dean”…wouldnt that be brilliant….seeming i have a copy of some of SK’s albums on vinyl,have heard about how stunning the books are,but have no record player to hear the albums,and no eyes to read the books!….pretttty please SK?…that’d be sooooo cool!…love,genx

  29. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 12:00 am #

    Eno recently wrote an article in The Guardian about Jon Hassell,,2207299,00.html#article_continue

  30. avatar
    markobears | 12 November 2007 at 2:08 am #

    Father! father! the sleeper has awakened!

  31. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 2:54 am #

    I’m gulping back tears Gavin Bryars and/or your avatar……this song immersed itself into my psyche (I still hum it from time to time) a long time ago and I’m more than a little stunned to hear from the creator after all these years…thanks for the reveal and the links.

    love Kittykatxxx

  32. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 5:15 am #

    Steve, thank you for your telescopic – focalised – appraisal of ‘ambient’ music. Personally, even though I enjoy the lack of supplication this music affords, I find it highly contrived, and it leaves me feeling passively unfulfilled. Furthermore, your perspective is localised in that it looks at the genre applied to the body of work coming out of the western world, so you’re kind of zooming in on the pillar with the banner. Sometimes with certain things – say, ambient music – the naked eye can see so much more simply by viewing that banner in context.

  33. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 5:28 am #

    Gen x f*ck off !

  34. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 5:46 am #

    anon @4.28!???are you the author of “the rules of cyberspace”???……or do you not cope well with kaos,and random acts of kindness,…just for the hell of it!?…have a lovely day!…and remember,being a wanker in public ,is embarassing to YOU,not me!…/genx

  35. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 November 2007 at 6:25 am #


  36. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 12 November 2007 at 6:52 am #

    I’m up late because I’m one of those political/governmental employees in the “grate” USA who has the day off today. I think Andy was right that Phaedra does not qualify as an ambient CD. I have this strange attachment to Tangerine Dream. Have almost 200 of their CDs.
    The one recent one that I think SK and others would really appreciate is “The Seven Letters From Tibet”. It’s ambient and very mystical. Edgar Froese is an eclectic talent but friction with departing band members has really made TD’s music a hit or miss these days.

    Parallel Universe side 2 is really incredible because the vocals are literally an instrument to augment the musicians and ultimatley make the CD a one of a kind marvel.

  37. avatar
    Larry | 14 November 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    Magma were French, sk.

  38. avatar
    Anonymous | 15 November 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    well?…..sumbody had to even it up?! x 😉

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