INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut FEBRUARY 2015 - by Michael Bonner
BRIAN ENO: NEROLI
The most fragrant of Eno's '90s studio albums, all now reissued.
In July 1992, Brian Eno presented an 'illustrated lecture' at Sadler's Wells theatre in London. Titled Perfume, Defence And David Bowie's Wedding, Eno began the talk by outlining a previous attempt to compose a map for explaining the relationship with smells. Evidently on a roll concerning matters olfactory, the following year he released his fourteenth album, Neroli, named after an oil distilled from orange blossoms. Digressions into aromachology aside, Neroli marked a critical point in Eno's sonic experiments. By 1993, artists including Richard James, Tom Middleton and Peter Namlook were developing new approaches to ambient music; 'chill out' would soon come. Neroli found Eno paring back the soundscapes of his Ambient series to create a delicate, highly minimalist work. Lasting just shy of an hour, it's essentially a series of notes played out as soft droplets. At 19:32, it's possible to notice that some notes begin to ring a little longer than others, creating subdued harmonic variations. Critically, Neroli anticipates Eno's imminent engagement with digital music; the start-up theme he'd devise for Microsoft in 1995 and the 'generative music' programmes that would evolve into iPad apps. It's accompanied by the unreleased long-form drone piece, New Space Music, which does what it says on the cosmic tin.