Off The Tracks JANUARY 15, 2017 - by Simon Sweetman


It's tempting to suggest that Eno is being very prolific - once again, but isn't he always? Isn't Eno - as much a concept as he is a man - always at work, hasn't ENO spread off into various distilled channels, surging through the work of others?

At any rate, one thing that is certainly true is that Brian Eno on Warp Records feels like a snug fit and the music he's been making since signing to Warp a half-decade ago has been consistent and has seen him return to the ideals - and execution and strategy - of his template for ambient music: he's making music that's as easy to ignore as it is to enjoy; equal measures.

And so it is with the brand new one, Reflection, released worldwide on New Year's Day, January 1. A peace-dream of music that rolls out across one fifty-four-minute track and, in that sense, is not dissimilar to the vibe and feel of the recently reissued Neroli. And not only that but other ambient returns in the 1990s (computer and art-installation work, commissioned pieces) and one of his first albums on Warp, Lux.

It's the Eno of long, sustained notes, chimes triggered from synth pads to ring out and be stretched until the breaking point see them fold back in on themselves.

Reflection could be the key to the universe for one listener, a complete waste of time for the other. Somewhere, deep inside the soft cocoon of music and "non music" that Eno is here - essentially - painting you can also see brushstrokes of his own smirk. He knows the deal.

Reflection is an album I've sat with across the last couple of weeks - I've played it at various points of the day, with a nightcap, with that vital first cup of coffee, under headphones to drift off, as loud as the room feels and then at other times so softly as to be the only one noticing it under the conversation. As with most of Eno's ambient albums I find it lovely, useful, profound and as often as not hard to distinguish; couldn't always pick it in a line-up but would always spot its creator.

So, I'm sold on it - but that would have seemed to be the case from the album's announcement, before I'd heard one of the delicate, elongated algorithmically-tweaked notes. It remains to be stated that at least that's most certainly the case after hearing it. And hearing it often. The early soundtrack for the year. If I made resolutions I'd make them to this. This feels likes a little bit of breathing space, a slight time-stoppage; that's resolution enough I should think. Something we might all be looking for - in one way or another. I'm as content just hearing it. And finding the time to stop and listen to as much of it as I can gather up, it unfurls in enough of a way so as to present different reflection-points each time.