BRIAN ENO'S ALBUMS - AN OVERVIEW
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The scope of Eno's musical activity is impressive. From 1972 up to the present day he has released over twenty-five solo albums ranging stylistically from the progressive rock of Here Come The Warm Jets to Music For Airports and what he called "ambient" music - a gentle mix of low dynamics, blurred edges, and washes of sound colour, produced primarily through electronic means - and through to the "juju jazz" of The Drop. It is on his solo albums that the unfolding of Eno's musical personality may be observed in its purest form; in the role of composer he has been keenly interested in working with the traditionally neglected or at least downplayed apsects of timbre and texture, and in the process of pursuing that interest he has been of seminal importance in the development of the "new age" or "space music" genre.
Collaboration with other rock and non-rock musicians has been a very important aspect of Eno's activity. Two albums of tape-looped synthesizer/guitar duets with King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp were among Eno's first publicly available experiments in ambient sound. Eno has worked with conceptual rock group 801 (a live band formed around ex-Roxy Music players Phil Manzanera on guitar and Eno on synthesizer), with Kevin Ayers, John Cale and Nico (producing a live album: June 1, 1974), and with the German synthesizer duo Cluster. Eno's involvement on four albums with David Bowie mixed hard rock, disco/funk and electronic excursions in a unique combination of styles. With David Byrne, leader of the Talking Heads, Eno made My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, which used African and American "found sounds" in a series of musical collages in which complex rhythms and textures set up a kind of electronic frieze. Entirely apart from the rock realm, Eno has worked with Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, Michael Brook, Roger Eno and J. Peter Schwalm, creating a marvelous variety of soundscapes and musical concepts.
Eno has appeared as an instrumentalist (playing synthesizer, percussion, bass and guitar) and vocalist on at least forty albums and, since the 1980s, his approach to music has found favour among filmakers, television and corporate executives, and playwrights. Eno created the Prophecy Theme for David Lynch's film Dune, and the music for the television series Creation Of The Universe as well as the startup-sound for the Microsoft Windows 95 computer operating-system. His music has been used in advertising, dance company and planetarium applications in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan, Finland and the Netherlands.
Eno's role in all of these projects has varied, but in most he has been credited as a co-composer and in some as the producer. His expertise in the recording studio has been much sought after since about 1975, and he has produced over forty albums on which he is not listed as one of the composers.
If Eno's approach to music can be summed up, it is in terms of inventing systems and setting them in motion; sustaining an open mind and childlike curiosity about the infinite range of musical possibility; taking command of technology's array of music-making equipment, from tape-recorders to synthesizers to mixing consoles; generally working within a relatively narrow range of expressive possibilities for any given piece; and accepting happy accidents at any stage of the creative process.
Excerpts from BRIAN ENO: HIS MUSIC AND THE VERTICAL COLOR OF SOUND by Eric Tamm