posted on November 9, 2007 at 11:48 pm

ambient music
the term first used around 75 by brian eno
brian eno is to ambient music
what the beatles were to rock
the prime mover

something just happened that you wont believe
but here it is
my skin still goosebumped
my eyes still filled with weird tears
my ipod was on shuffle
i had been listening to biosphere
it was good to write about ambience to
then pugwash came on bright and chirpy
i jumped up
my head full of thoughts of brian eno
i thought “on land”
surely enos most amazing ambient work
i will listen to that as i type type type
i picked up the pod off the i box
and fiendss
its giving me the creeps to think of it
as i touched the pod
the screen changed
it had jumped off shuffle and pugwash
and it was playing
yes you guessed
on land by brian eno
can someone please explain
what i am to understand from that?
i swear on my life this is all true

as it happens
there was no real ambient music before 1975
and before brian eno
nothing i had ever heard (of)
apparently eno was in hospital
this is during his transition from strange glam star
to intellectual experimenter
he had a collapsed lung
someone brought him a stereo to listen to
it was a rainy day
there was a busy street outside
one speaker didnt seem to work
and when enos visitor left
he realised the music was too low
and he couldnt get up to change the volume
why the music was at the same level
as the rain and the wet streets and cars
initially frustrated
it dawned on him
the beauty of this barely audible classical piece
amidst the natural sounds
soothing non intrusive
it did not demand a reaction
you could take it or leave it
the surrounding sounds inter reacted with the music
enos genius was to hear the infinite possibilities implied
i had been interested in eno ever since he first came to my attention
roxy musics 1st album
i got it in 73 it may have been released earlier
actually the synth stuff he does is quite funny
obviously and proudly a non musician
eno brings an attitude
of course he was a non musician back then
these days im sure hes quite accomplished
even though he may not care to admit it
nevertheless some of its awful
some of it brilliant
he also began treating guitars
i had never before heard of anyone “treating” an instrument
at the time i had no idea what was involved
but i began to feel a new kind of thinking
had entered rock
2nd album more of the same
+ a very silly get up with peacock feathers and make up
he was not looking like the father of ambience
guess what
bryan ferry kicked him out
i guess he was tired of eno getting all the attention
or he wasnt interested in john cage and music concrete
you can imagine their disagreements
before ferry finally asked him to leave
both very polite and well spoken
lots of subtle nastiness and intellectual kidney punches
eno made a solo album
here come the warm jets
the title presumably referring to the playing card
on the cover
in which at least a hundred years ago
a gentleman is standing behind a lady
lifting her skirts
and watching her
as she squats and pees in some bleak landscape
very odd you must admit
anyway it was a pretty good album
some ambience was hinted at
but it was mostly twisted songs
phil manzanera playing some great guitar
enos goofy voice and his sharp bizarre lyrics
mixing pop cliche daydream and jargon
but it was still a rock record in the end
taking tiger mountain by strategy
enos 2nd album was a little weirder
he had his systems going here
his systems of writing and recording
eventually mutating into a box of cards
briefly available then re released recently
in which a random principle could be introduced
into the processes of creating music
this box of cards was called oblique strategies
i have seen them though i have never used them
i never really like ttmbs that much myself
i admired the methods but didnt care for the result
enos 3rd album however
is where ambient music seems to be slowly incubating
on this album are short instrumental tracks
strongly hinting at what was to come
when eno would finally abandon the song format
in the movie
dogs in space
it is shown as the album
that people wanted to borrow
when they wanted a seductive soundtrack to their hanky panky
yet this music is rarely erotic
and perhaps it was played to lull young nervous women
into a false calm
eno here
becomes eno
becomes himself
music that floats
music that truly drifts in clouds of sad strings
music that glimmers like gold in a stream
a new music
a new aesthetic
never pompous though
naive if anything
a new feeling
the songs were still quirky and poppy
but this was a man
to whom a whole new universe was unfolding
the next record was his last with songs or vocals
for a while
now i dont correctly know the sequence of things here
but all around this time
eno did this:
* made 2 albums of treated guitar with robert fripp
consisting of long droning notes looped and fed through synths
you can hear the church with this effect on dead mans dream solo
wherein marty is playing his guitar fed into a vintage synthesiser
and the filters on the synth
attackdecaysustainrelease etc
being twiddled with
no pussyfooting
the 1st album
by these 2 shy geniuses
a rude title no doubt referring to legendary groupie fest
the 2 had once been involved in in new york
this was roxy days i guess
the bands had toured together
king crimson and roxy
its the 2nd album
evening star
another type of ambience
music not intended to be your primary source of focus
you werent sposed to play this loud
however if you listened
such metallic beauty
not heavy metallic
but thin strips of gold and silver leaf
resonating in mineral voices
chords drown and gently mutate
distant storms only just heard
its beautiful beautiful stuff
yes you could do yoga or have sex to it
or both at the same time if youre a tantric casanova
it was not atonal or slightly dissonant in places
like no pussyfooting
it was sweet
*produced ultravoxs 1st album
containing eno/foxx composition
my sex
absolutely essential stuff
the words the music
eno sculpts a futurist city
for foxx to populate
with his dis-associated characters
who wander thru life
in wonder
but serene
“pieced from the tick of time
and geared for…synchromesh”
and that is as good as it gets on pop records
*worked with german duo cluster
made 2 interesting records with them
important to note the influence eno has
on all he worked with
* made recordings with new york band
before they made marquee moon
it never worked out
and the bootleg will attest to that
i guess verlaine couldnt give eno
any room to move
and that was the end of that
*toured the uk with pub rock band the winkies backing him
* worked with portsmouth sinfonia
which are amateur classical players butchering the greats
funny idea
excruciating listening
*appeared on genesis lamb lies down on broadway
if you want to clearly something eno was involved in
listen to silent sorrow in empty boats which has the trademark
eno backgrounds; floating vanishing gently changing
eno is credited on sleeve notes
eno as eno
and that is some justification
of the truly unique sound that he alone had
*he co produced the end by nico with john cale
an amazing album not for the lover of light fizz
*he made a live album with cale, nico and kevin ayers
but soon
he was to make
the worlds
very first
ambient record
discreet music

part 2

45 Responses to “short treatise on ambient music:part 1”

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