Brian Eno - Music For Installations

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  • It's slightly peculiar that Brian Eno's image these days is more as the great public intellectual of the music world than for his contemporary records. Thing is, for all his wry and avuncular delivery, his provocations aren't always that fully-formed. Trump is a useful shock to the system? Artists should avoid getting jobs? Pop music marked a cultural swing away from individualism? Really? The real problem is that the focus on this wisecracking conceptualism can distract from the fact that he still deserves to be appreciated as a musician first. On this box set of ambient music composed for his art pieces, he's at his best. There are 24 tracks here, ranging from three minutes to 44, all designed to play in the background while people view artworks. They are very much in the mode of Eno's idea of ambient music as high-class wallpaper. That really does mean high class: just like the real-life wallpaper that Eno designed, which sells for £50 a roll, or like expensive perfume, his ambient music has a way of making any space it's played in feel classier, more aesthetically pleasing. It's easy to look down on music that serves this function, but that would be to ignore the real radicalism of what Eno has always done with his ambient records. Unlike the work of interior designers and perfumers, ambient music offers a democratic, affordable tool for transforming spaces. Music For Installations doesn't offer a single listening experience: these tracks make far more sense looped, either alone or in small groups, to create a particular, sustained mood. Whether it's the wistful, stare-at-the-horizon sustain on the electric piano notes of "Five Light Paintings," or the subterranean hisses and rumbles of "Liquidambar," each has a distinct mood with a distinct purpose. Some tracks, like the sunlight-through-dust vibe of "Kazakhstan," are general purpose, something you could happily leave on repeat all day whatever your mood. Others are more attention-grabbing. Take the shadowy mysteries of "Surbahar Sleeping Music," or the ecstatic fizzing of "All The Stars Were Out," which are unlikely to be what you'd pick for eating your breakfast to. But like a purple light or bitter incense, they create very particular, intense atmospheres. So, for all that one might think of ambient music as the ultimate in passive listening, these pieces ask you to make decisions about what mood you want to create, even how you want to live. This is where Eno's brilliance lies: in his natural understanding of sound as tool, as environment, as cognitive enhancer, and his ability to encode all of that in his own music.
  • Tracklist
      Music From Installations 01. Kazakhstan 02. The Ritan Bells 03. Five Light Paintings 04. Flower Bells 77 Million Paintings 01. 77 Million Paintings Lightness - Music For The Marble Palace 01. Atmospheric Lightness 02. Chamber Lightness I Dormienti / Kite Stories 01. I Dormienti 02. Kites I 03. Kites II 04. Kites III Making Space 01. Needle Click 02. Light Legs 03. Flora And Fauna / Gleise 581d 04. New Moons 05. Vanadium 06. All The Stars Were Out 07. Hopeful Timean Intersect 08. World Without Wind 09. Delightful Universe (Seen From Above) Music For Future Installations 01. Unnoticed Planet 02. Liquidambar 03. Sour Evening (Complex Heaven 3) 04. Surbahar Sleeping Music