INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Buzzine NOVEMBER 7, 2012 - by Jesse Livingston
THE ICONIC ARTIST RETURNS TO BEST AMBIENT FORM, SPACE AND EXPRESSION
There was a time when Brian Eno was a glam-rock god in the groundbreaking band Roxy Music. However, he walked away from that life and pursued one of the more fascinating solo careers in music history. His new album Lux is a sparse exercise in ambient electronica, a genre he helped to pioneer, and it's a beautifully calm, elegant work.
Eno's career began somewhat accidentally. He tells the story of his introduction to Roxy Music like this: "As a result of going into a subway station and meeting Andy [Mackay], I joined Roxy Music, and, as a result of that, I have a career in music. If I'd walked ten yards further on the platform, or missed that train, or been in the next carriage, I probably would have been an art teacher now." Those familiar with his approach to music won't find this surprising, as Eno has always emphasized the more academic, experimental, and educational aspects of songwriting.
As a full-band performer, the aforementioned glam-rock god who played synths and sang backup for Bryan Ferry's troupe of snazzy innovator, Eno was simply bored. He claims to have realized he was in the wrong job when he found himself thinking about his laundry while playing and singing at a Roxy Music show. He quit the band in 1973 after only two years, and began recording his own material.
The result was four albums of unusual pop songs: Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World and Before And After Science. These solo works chart a course from avant-glam (songs like Needles In The Camel's Eye and Baby's On Fire that are familiar to devotees of The Velvet Goldmine soundtrack) to ambient art-rock (Spirits Drifting, Through Hollow Lands).
Eno then moved into his ambient phase, producing landmark albums like 1975's Discreet Music and 1978's Music For Airports. He has stated that his aim for the latter was to create a soothing background for the often-beautiful airport structure without denying the tension of a building full of people convinced they are going to die in a fiery plane crash.
Lux fits readily into this era of Eno's music. In fact, it was played in Tokyo's Haneda Airport for four days before its release. The seventy-six-minute piece was originally composed for a show at the Great Gallery in the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy. It's subtitled "The play of light," and one can easily imagine a palette of shifting shades and floating dust motes in the rays of afternoon sunshine coming through a window into a vacant room somewhere.
Lux mostly consists of chiming piano notes at various intervals woven together with prolonged string tones. It has a haunting, hovering quality that will entrance you if you open yourself to it. It's the perfect music for quiet meditation, and it could potentially lead to more productive and creative work should one use it to adjust one's mood and mindset to a contemplative frequency.
Brian Eno has spent his life exploring the effects of music on the human concepts of time, progress, architecture, and other intentional spaces in the mind and the physical world. Lux is a delicate but powerful addition to this canon. From the first few notes, you can feel the unique energy it brings to the imagination, and the peaceful reverie it induces in those with the patience to hear it.