Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Brian Eno!

Accidental musician, Glam Rock dandy, experimental composer, alternative pop music front man, producer extraordinaire, conceptual multimedia artist, and father of Ambient Music, Brian Eno celebrates his 65th birthday today. If you are not familiar with Eno, chances are you are familiar with his work. He was a member of Roxy Music from 1971 to 1973, released solo albums of electronic pop music ("Here Come the Warm Jets," "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)," "Another Green World" and "Before and After Science"), invented a tape delay instrument with Robert Fripp called "Frippertronics" for their release "No Pussyfooting," invented the musical genre known as "Ambient," collaborated on Bowie's legendary Berlin trio ("Low," "Heroes," and "Lodger"), recorded the precursor to the surge in World Music "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" which also pioneered the concept and method of "sampling" music, and produced material for Talking Heads, U2, Devo, Ultravox, James, Jane Siberry, Nico, Genesis, Coldplay, Grace Jones, and James Blake. Surprisingly, he created the six-second start-up music-sound of the Microsoft Windows 95 operating system. He has created art work for galleries around the world including video installations as well as a set of divination cards entitled "Oblique Strategies" intended to stimulate the creative process in any medium. Critic Jason Ankeny at Allmusic argues that Eno "forever altered the ways in which music is approached, composed, performed, and perceived, and everything from punk to techno to new age bears his unmistakable influence."

Above, top row: two views of early "Glam" Eno. Middle Row: Eno with Bowie in the studio in Berlin; Eno with the members of U2 recording as The Passengers; Eno in the studio with David Byrne during the recording of "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts." Bottom row: Eno earlier and later.

Here is one of the four tracks from his iconic Ambient release, "Music For Airports." This track was HUGELY influential to me when it first came out in 1978.

And here are all sixty glorious minutes and fifty-seven seconds of "Thursday Afternoon," Eno's "holographic" Ambient work. A hologram image is visible because each point in the object illuminates all of the hologram. This means that the whole image can be reconstructed from a small part of the hologram. Put another way, a hologram can be broken up into small pieces and each one will enable the whole of the original object to be imaged. Eno used this idea to structure this Ambient masterpiece. Play any fragment of it, and you will hear what the entire piece is like. If you have not heard this, do yourself a favor: close the door, close your eyes, relax in your chair, and let this waft down into your consciousness.

Happy birthday, Brian Eno! Thank you for your imagination and precious body of work. You have enriched my life and I thank you.

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