Saturday, 24 December 2016

Brian Eno "Ambient 2 The Plateaux Of Mirror" (1980)


A name maybe unknown to the masses, Brian Eno is an influential person in the landscape of music. His most known works are the Windows 95 start up jingle and "An Ending (Ascent)", a song many people would know from its use in modern cinema. Beyond these peaks he has been a big influence on electronic music and the evolution of Ambient, experimenting with minimalism and a theory before execution approach to composition. Active since the seventies with roots in Art Rock, Eno has has built up a large body of work revolving around many collaborations with big names in music.

"The Plateaux Of Mirror" is the second of four in the Ambient series and the first to "crack open" for me. The power and involvement of the subconscious in this form of music is essential as proven by the magic of shuffle, or "random" mode. Preoccupied by mundane chores, the music in the background soothed me into a calmer state of being. As the songs changed, my mind was focused on other things and my awareness of what was playing lowered but its effect still intact. Moments like these are why I always have music playing, your undivided attention can get in the way. With the subconscious taking it in a few minutes rolled by and I notice how tranquil and calming the atmosphere is, of course I then put the record on and soaked up its brilliance now understanding its purpose.

And that is to sooth, relax and unwind the listener with soft innocent sounds that disappear into themselves. Pianist Harold Budd improvises as Eno controls the atmosphere through reverbs and additional instrumentation. The result is a slow, ambiguous listen that can sound either sombre or carefree depending on how you interpret the mysterious sounds that accompany the piano. Its illusive, evocative of the imagination like a passing dream or mirage. Its ambience is both in substance and design. The reverbs shroud each moment in its own passing and the notes played are directing the moods without hooks, melodies or anything condensed or simplified. At the same time they are not elaborate or complex, just a passing collection of notes that drift us by, forming feelings and moods with out a distinguishable melody or memorable moment. I find myself in awe of their collaborative genius.

I like the records cover a lot, It resembles a map without being one, its suggestive of the equivocal sound held behind where things are open to interpretation but still powerful and vivid. To enjoy this record now is a treat but this and many others of Eno's are considered to be true artistic endeavors that paved the way for what is now a familiarity in soundtracks, video game music and within the Ambient genre. Hearing this at the start of the 80s must of really been something. For me its another mood inducing remedy to put on the shelf, left there to await the moment it is called upon.

Favorite Track: Wind in The Lonely Faces
Rating: 8/10

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