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Brian Eno – Music For Films

October 23, 2006

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a problem, perhaps an addiction. It’s not an addiction that will kill me or make me lose my hair or turn my skin all clammy, but it’s an annoying one nonetheless. I buy way too many CDs. Well, I acquire way too many CDs. I don’t have a lot of money as it is and I am going to have to start to worry about college and other such expenses soon enough. Which makes my addiction all the more ridunkulous. When I see something I want, I say to myself, oh, if I had that I would be content enough to not buy any albums for a loooong time. Never works out. I always seem to make certain excuses as well to justify or protect my (what could be) dangerous habit, but I think it’s really time to buckle down. I do have some solutions that I could employ, and aren’t even that hard at employing. I should be more akin to roughing it musically than I already am, so I’ll try my hardest to review my current stash (ginormous) within the next few months without getting anything else. I have so fricking many things that I could review right now. This is one of them, and consequently one of the worst CD buying decisions I have made in the past few months. It’s Brian Eno yes, so I suppose it has to be good if you are in the right mood for it. It is, that’s very true. But it was way too expensive, even considering the fact that I could likely not get it for any cheaper elsewhere, as it is a rare import from Holland like most all of Eno’s work seems to be.

If you have ever enjoyed the wonderful sounds of Eno’s Another Green World (If you haven’t, fucking do it now. That’s a goddam order soldier.), than you might be able to equate most of the songs on this collection as music close to Becalmed, Zawinul/Lava, and possibly even Little Fishes if you want to stretch it, mostly in the way of length. The music is what the title suggests, music that sounds like it really should be from a film soundtrack. That said, like movie soundtrack nuggets, most of the songs on this album are very short, somewhat spontaneous and different from one another, and very atmospheric and interesting. I believe many of them were actually used in movies, interestingly enough.

This is, quite simply, ambient music. Keep in mind the circumstances in which it was made though. The year is 1978, and the release was technically before that of Ambeint 1: Music For Airports even though it was the same year and the man was arguably already working on the more well known masterwork. This is actually a collective work as well, and the credit on the album goes to several different people other than Eno on different occasions, the most interesting of these people being Percy Jones, Phil Collins, and Robert Fripp. But Eno himself did most of the work, and this shows in the striking simmilarity and comparable soundscapes to his later work in the Ambient series. All this said, each track is a meticulously created synth instrumental, and sometimes they work fantastically. Other times though, the pieces feel almost criminally underdeveloped and able of being crafted into something perhaps simmilar to the better tracks on Another Green World, where the instrumentals dwarf all others.

It should be noted, though, that even the underdeveloped and simple songs are joys to listen to. Brian Eno is not close to a typical music artist, so obviously this album is going to be quite different. I can immagine even the most avid listeners and fans of Eno at the time who had enjoyed not only Roxy Music but Another Green World and Eno’s other great albums would be surprised and put off by this, at least slightly. The album isn’t really organized, and songs with certain emotions don’t necessarilly carry to their followers. The biggest problem would be the fact that many of the songs could be extended a minute or two and would still fit snuggly into the format of the album. Even considering the typical length of records at the time, this clocks in at 40 minutes or so, a bit shy of the typical release. But those problems aside, most of the music here is just as breathy and atmospheric as any Brian Eno ambient work you will find.

The mood is typically very relaxed. Only the artists truly know what context these songs were supposed to be played in, but the titles hint at some theatrical situations that may or may not be fitting. Slow Water is a wonderful piece that whispers of a shimmering transparent flow. Another great one, Task Force, speaks musically of a late night city group who finds some excitement among the monotony. ‘There Is Nobody’ comes close to a flat out groove among the bleeps and bloops. The three part relaxing melancholy of Sparrowfall 1-3 are also very delightful and worth extended listens. But the two obvious winners are Quartz, a shimmering dreamer, and From The Same Hill, with it’s lovely acoustic guitar.

I guess I shouldn’t stress the fact that these pieces are relaxed so much as they are atmospheric. Alternative 3 is good, but surely disturbing. The idea here is what you would expect. It’s a collection of moody instrumental pieces that could easily be placed in movies. Considering the time in which it was made, this album is WAY ahead of it’s time and worth a listen if you are a fan of any other of Brian Eno’s ambient music. If you have heard his earlier pop or Another Green World and none of his later stuff, this might be a bit difficult if you are expecting any of the same, but it is still a great treasure box of mood pieces. Was it worth it for me? Probably not, as there are many other great Eno instrumental albums which I don’t have the pleasure of owning or even having heard, and it fetched a very high price that I was dumb enough to pay, but I am still happy with it because it is Brian Eno, and it’s really hard to go wrong with his art.

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