Enography: The Collected Writings of (and about) Brian Eno

I’ve been reading texts on artist, producer, and self-proclaimed “non-musician” Brian Eno for years, and thought it might be a good idea to start tracking all of the books examining his work in my library. I extracted a list of all Eno-related texts from moredarkthanshark.org and added a few other rare titles from my own archive. Referencing data from my Goodreads account I built a spreadsheet to catalog which texts I’ve read, which I have in physical form, as well as the ones I have as ebooks. I then used an aggregate book search engine to secure physical copies of most of the texts I was missing to build as complete a library as I was able. There are three titles I’ve yet to claim, but they command higher prices than I was ready to import to the States for this first stage of the project.

Pictured below are thirteen of my favorite titles on the subjects of Eno’s work, and ambient and generative music in general. There was a week delay in the project after book #13 was lost in the post and I had to order another copy, but at last I have them all.

I was particularly excited to secure a copy of Sound Unbound published by MIT Press, which compiles essays on sample/mashup/remix culture collected by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), and which features a Forward by Cory Doctorow, my favorite essayist on the subjects of digital rights activism and copyleftism. And like the Moondog book I recently ordered, it is packaged with a companion compact disc of the works discussed.

Pictured are the following:

Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports by John T. Lysaker
Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music by Christoph Cox
Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds by David Toop
A Year With Swollen Appendices by Brian Eno
Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond by Michael Nyman
Brian Eno: His Music And The Vertical Color Of Sound by Eric Tamm
The Ambient Century by Mark Prendergast
Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture by Paul D. Miller
On Some Faraway Beach: The Life And Times Of Brian Eno by David Sheppard
Another Green World (33 1/3 Series) by Geeta Dayal
Brian Eno: Visual Music by Christopher Scoates
Brian Eno: Oblique Music by Sean Albiez
Music For Installations (companion book to the ltd ed. 2018 9LP vinyl box set) by Brian Eno

as well as the official Oblique Strategies deck Eno produced with artist, Peter Schmidt.

Also read but not pictured: 

Music Beyond Airports – Appraising Ambient Music by Monty Adkins

I really look forward to diving into the yet-unread titles from this indispensable collection. These books will be wonderful company through the chills of winter and shall serve as an intellectually stimulating start to 2020!

02 Brian Eno Book Collection (sm for web)

Innerspace Labs’ Year-End Large Library Catalog

With Thanksgiving off from work and the whole day to myself it felt like the perfect opportunity to run some metrics on my archive to provide me with some valuable insight as to the development of my larger libraries just in time to close out the year. 

And it couldn’t have come a more fitting time, as I’ve been filled with inspiration and have been actively expanding my archive thanks to the magnificent ambient soundscapes showcased on the syndicated radio program, Hearts of Space

I maintain a complete broadcast archive of every transmission of the program since 1983 – over 1200 hours of ambient space music. These tone poems accompany me for eight hours every day at the office, and all through the night as I sleep. (For someone as hyperproductive as I am, this music is a godsend as it helps to quiet my overactive mind.)

Captivated by these contemporary instrumental works, I’ve spent the last few months compiling complete discographic archives of the artists featured on the program, many of whom have over one hundred albums in their respective catalogs spanning the history of ambient and space music. It’s a labor of love, and infinitely rewarding as I enjoy the company of their music all throughout my waking and restful hours.

I had previously compiled a digital archive of all official and unofficial Tangerine Dream releases, including the Tangerine Tree live recording archive totaling 298 discs of electronic ambient music. 

Soon thereafter I assembled a complete discography of the 45 releases by modern classical composer Harold Budd. I’ve loved his soft-pedal technique ever since I first heard his collaborations with Brian Eno.

Inspired by the Hearts of Space program I continued this effort by building a lossless library of the 72 releases by veteran ambient composer, Robert Rich. Rich has been featured on 84 transmissions of Hearts of Space and is a staple figure of the genre.

From there I built an archive of the 161-album catalog of his collaborator and Hearts of Space favorite artist, Steve Roach. Roach’s recordings are informed by his impressions of environment, perception, flow, and space and are considered to be highly influential in the genre of new age music.

Next I compiled a complete 100-album discography of the late master of Tibetan singing bowls, Klaus Wiese. Wiese played tamboura on Popol Vuh’s classic Hosianna Mantra and Seligpreisung LPs and is considered by some as one of the great ambient and space music artists.

I then secured a 149-disc library of the German dark ambient / drone ambient musician, Mathias Grassow. His Wikipedia entry notes that “[his] music often has a meditative and emotional and spiritual context, which induces deep feelings of introspection in listeners.”

I did the very same for the Berlin minimalist composer Andrea Porcu, who performs under the moniker Music For Sleep, and for UK experimental artist 36 (a project of Dennis Huddleston), and for other prominent figures of the genre. 

These explorations directly resulted in a number of physical media investments like the Hearts of Space first transmission LP limited to 500 copies worldwide, Robert Rich’s Premonitions 4LP box set (also limited to 500 copies), and the limited edition Nighthawks / Translucence / Drift Music autographed vinyl box set comprising the complete collaborations of Harold Budd and John Foxx.

I last published a feature on my playlist projects five years ago so it seemed like a good idea to recalculate the number of albums and total runtimes for the artists and record labels representing the largest segments of my library as a means of both organizing large sets of data and to serve as a reminder of catalogs I still need to explore in full. And while the former project from 2015 included large-scale genre maps I thought that this time it would be more productive to focus on specific artists, producers, and record labels specializing in a particular sound to highlight large libraries in my archive.

So that tabulation is consistent and equally weighted across various collections, I’ve calculated totals based on the total number of discs, so that a 30-disc box set weighs accurately against a single-disc release.

I factored collections of greater than 20 albums as being eligible large libraries. I was going to render a set of graphs of the results as I did with large playlists in 2015, but given the sheer number of eligible sets I felt that the data is most clearly expressed in a basic table. This list of approximately one hundred artists accounts for roughly 1% of the artists in my library, but over 75% of the total albums cataloged.

Here are the results, organized from largest to smallest libraries. I’ll divide the results into three categorical sets – first complete artist / record label discographies, followed by libraries of old time radio broadcasts, and close with box sets of audiobooks.

Here are the discographies:

Largest Discographic Archives by Artist / Record Label:# of Discs
Hearts of Space Radio Broadcast Archive1232
The Progressive-Kraut-Psych-Avant garde Rock Collection (Vols I-VIII)753
Underworld600
The World’s Greatest Jazz Collection500
Psybient DVD Packs Map317
Tangerine Dream and Tangerine Tree Live Archive298
Big Band Music Digital Archive259
FAX +49-69450464 Catalog (Pete Namlook)254
The KLF / Kopyright Liberation Front / JAMS / Justified Ancients of Mu Mu / The Timelords189
Steve Roach161
Ninja Tune Records154
Mathais Grassow149
Future Sounds of London & Amorphous Androgynous141
Lemon Jelly137
Keith Jarrett135
Max & Dima: Sapovnela Studio Sessions131
Throbbing Gristle131
111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon111
Miles Davis109
Daft Punk104
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno100
Flea Market Funk: Funky Soul & Rare Groove100
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention100
Hit the Brakes DJ Series100
Klaus Wiese100
RYM Top 100 Downtempo / Trip Hop LPs100
Sigur Ros100
Nurse With Wound99
Franz Liszt97
Thelonious Sphere Monk97
Good Looking Records: Archive of LTJ Bukem’s Intelligent D’n’B Label94
Deuter89
Franklin Mint’s 100 Greatest Recordings of all Time88
Vangelis87
Richard D. James / Aphex Twin86
Karlheinz Stockhausen86
Jimmy Smith85
Klaus Schulze81
Ravi Shankar81
Ludwig Van Beethoven80
Sun Ra and the Arkestra74
John Cage73
2manyDJS / Radio Soulwax72
Robert Rich72
They Might Be Giants72
Café del Mar71
Peter Gabriel68
Philip Glass68
Ornette Coleman66
Mike Oldfield65
Muslimgauze63
Tom Waits63
The Orb63
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers62
Spacemind Psybient Mix Series62
Cornelius60
Attention K-Mart Shoppers: K-Mart Corporate Muzak (1973-1992)58
DJ Food & Solid Steel Radio Sets58
Porcupine Tree58
Parliament / Funkadelic57
Ambient Music Guide Podcast (2015-2019) by Mike G55
Cocteau Twins52
Herbie Hancock52
Ash Ra Tempel / Manuel Göttsching50
Early Experimental Electronic Music (1940-1976)50
Bill Laswell49
Early Moog & Synthesizer Library48
Jimmy McGriff48
Harold Budd45
Ryuichi Sakamoto44
Duke Ellington42
Bob Marley & The Wailers40
Captain Beefheart40
DJ Prestige39
Fela Kuti: The King of Afrobeat39
Enya37
John Fahey36
Fluke35
Low35
Arvo Pärt33
Electronic Supper Club33
Robert Fripp33
Charles Mingus32
Jah Wobble31
Moog Indigo: Classic Albums of Space Age Bachelor Pad Music31
Claude Debussy30
John Coltrane30
The Flaming Lips30
Chant Ambrosien: Sacred Music From the Middle Ages to the 20th Century29
Music For Sleep (Andrea Porcu)29
Kruder & Dorfmeister28
Moondog28
Cabaret Voltaire26
William Basinski26
Son House: Walkin’ Blues (The Complete Recordings)25
Top 25 Psybient Ultimae Records Releases25
Autechre24
36 (Ambient Composer Dennis Huddleston)22
Biosphere21

And the Old Time Radio series:

Old Time Radio:# of Discs
Dragnet298
The Adventures of Superman171
The Goon Show168
X Minus One (1955-1973)122
CBS Radio Mystery Theater: The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes83
BBC Radio: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes79
The Shadow (1937-1954)75
The Complete Sherlock Holmes Audiobooks60
Flash Gordon26
Orson Welles Mercury Theater 193820

And Audiobooks:

Audiobooks:# of Discs
Ray Bradbury425
Isaac Asimov348
Douglas Adams268
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle207
Philip K Dick124
HP Lovecraft (Dark Adventure Radio Theatre Complete Programs)17

The next libraries I intend to collect are Conny Plank’s 122-release extended discography, Dieter Moebius’ 65-album map, Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ 115-release catalog, and the 126 releases by Klaus Schulze, Pete Namlook, and Tetsu Inoue.

This new data will prove to be immeasurably useful for my annual reports and as a mental bookmark of large libraries I’ll continue to explore throughout my work days and subliminally while I sleep each night. And I have exciting new listening equipment arriving in the weeks ahead which will further enhance my sonic experience so stay tuned for an exciting feature to kick off the year 2020!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Pieces—A Thousand Albums At The End Of America

Bill Boulden - Pieces - A Thousand Albums At The End Of America (Vinyl Rip - Each of 1000 Copies is Unique)

I’m honored to share an extraordinarily unique recording for this installment at Innerspace Labs. This is Bill Boulden’s (aka Spruke’s) innovative project, Pieces—A Thousand Albums At The End Of America.

From his Kickstarter page:

Spruke’s previous Kickstarted ambient music album Music To Die Alone In Space To featured the same album being rerecorded 310 times with unique variations for every backer. On Pieces, he will expand on this concept by adding an innovative new system of distributed storytelling.

This follow-up project tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic near future – a story spread over 96 LPs. Boulden partnered with Meep Records, a single-run lathe-cut vinyl manufacturer, to make it possible for the first time to own literally the only copy of an album in existence.

Boulden describes the album-within-an-album concept he employed for this record:

When America falls, the musicians of the time period don’t sit around and let it happen. These albums contain fragments of the music of this alternate future. They appear in fits and starts between other tracks; ten seconds as a lead-in to a piano piece, or a thirty-second interlude between two tracks, or maybe fifteen seconds of radio static between ambient passages where you can hear a radio station almost tuning into this song but not quite finding it.

I’ve hired hip-hop artists, barbershop quartets, folk singers, grrl garage punk, country singers, and more from this hypothetical future that may never come to pass, to come back in time and put their songs in tiny pieces on this album.

[The album presents a dystopia where] America is broken and abandoned. Relics from humankind’s brief stay are slowly being reclaimed by nature, and one damning question lingers: What happened here?

Boulden explains “Distributed Storytelling” thusly:

Cassettes. Handheld recorders. Radio broadcasts. Voicemails. When Americans saw their country dissolve around them, they left all of these and more lying everywhere, and you’ll hear fragments of them as you move through a unique copy of the album… but never the whole story.

He leaves it up to the backers of the project to collaborate and piece together the full narrative. The LPs are not numbered, so there is no official chronology or oversight of the 96 segments. They were engineered through Boulden’s generative compositional process, and once the rules were set in motion the story unfolded on its own. The unique one-off discs were priced at $80-110 apiece and all copies sold out to the original backers of the project.

The social participatory factor here is exciting. Some of the backers shared their uniques on twitter as #BitsOfPieces. You can search that hashtag to find people swapping uniques and new material comes up on every copy.

The canonical edition was a randomly selected copy from the series, (Boulden believes it to be #36 or so), that was the copy chosen to print en masse and put on Spotify, iTunes, etc. Approximately 200 LPs were pressed of this edition.

The opening minutes of the canonical (wide-release) edition of the record set the stage with disembodied beeps and somber off-key sour synths. We are quickly introduced to curious smatterings of disconnected conversations about the dismal chaos that has come of America. These fractured dialogues are fast-forwarded and rewound from dusty old cassettes and fade in and out from distant radio signals on an imagined archaic analog tuner. We are wandering through the smoldering aftermath seeking signs of survival in a bleak 1980s vision of a dark near-future.

Musique concrète with a beat, this album offers captivatingly voyeuristic post-apocalyptic field recordings and static-laden AM / Ham / shortwave radio broadcasts with a bizarre displaced out-of-time personae.

Pieces… is richly hauntological and brimming with digitally-processed but authentic sounding artifacts of characteristically analog phenomena, including radio broadcasts, snippets of sorrowful minor-key piano melodies, retro television commercial segments, station-tuning and detuning, vinyl crackling, and tape wow and flutter. It features an impressively wide dimensional soundstage ranging from distant and lonely vocal echoes to vintage answering machines to in-your-face distorted guitar shredding, with looming drones and sustained synths to tie it all together with brilliantly seamless finesse. And the mastering quality is top-notch with a zero noise floor to let the artistry take front and center stage.

Pieces… is a work of 21st century studio wizardry richly in the spirit of classic Musique concrète and Eno’s generative methodology. (I also can’t resist its recollection of perhaps a Gothic incarnation of The Firesign Theater’s Bozos LP, particularly reminisced with the clapboard opening and fractured radio adverts.) And there is undeniably a hearty dose of John Carpenter’s desolate and foreboding 80s synths present here. But the record isn’t just the score to such a film. With all the scattered original vocal samples it effectively conjures the visual of an unmade motion picture as well.

There are no verses or choruses. There is only the persistence of the constantly-shifting ambient foci with strange new sounds vying for the listener’s attention at every turn. The album is a highly-engaging dystopian dramatization reminiscent of War Of The Worlds with the enhancement and magic of modern production which rewards dedicated listening. Pieces… is easily the most fascinating and impactful recording I’ve heard this year.

Five stars for its progressive concept, for its vision, for its implementation, for its production, for its social participatory element, and for music that truly deserves some attention.

A Promotion And An Introvert’s Dream

I was recently promoted at work and given the largest desk on the floor which is affectionately referred to as “The Fortress of Solitude” by my team. It’s off by itself with four enclosed walls making it an incredibly quiet and private space which is a dream for an introvert like myself. My supervisor was confident placing me there because he knew I could work independently but would also continue to supervise and interact with new members of the team to assist them as needed.

I wasted no time in making the space my own – a home away from home. I ordered a few antique art pieces, a Persian style rug, I printed custom posters and had them framed, ordered limited edition lithographs, and had a second bronze bust of Beethoven cast to match the one I use in my home office for use as headphone stands in each space.

To ensure that each of the pieces would function well in the space, I took a moment between tasks at work to sketch out a rough template of the work area’s measurements and where I planned to place/hang each artifact. Here’s the (very) rough layout.

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It took a few months for all of the art works to be created, printed, or to ship from their nations of origin, but it’s all come together. The final step was to replace the boring wheeled plastic desk chair with something more my style. Thankfully I scored a vintage red armchair for just $7 at a local garage sale.

Here are a few shots of the results.

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The last item has just arrived and is now handsomely framed on my office wall. This is the limited edition bonus A2 lithograph from Brian Eno’s new Extended Edition of Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, exclusively shipped to the first 250 persons worldwide to submit their orders upon the announcement of its release last May.

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The print showcases the lunar surface depicted on the original album cover from 1983. The piece is a perfect complement to the official Hearts of Space nebula poster I ordered from the ambient radio program that has been wishing space fans safe journeys for nearly forty years.

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The Beethoven bust turned out fantastic and really adds a refined touch to the space –

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My dual desktop wallpaper is a photo of the century-old chalkware “Nipper” statue and 1911 Monarch gramophone proudly displayed in my dining room in celebration of “His Master’s Voice,” the legacy of RCA, and the history of recorded music, and a small cast iron figure of Nipper sits humbly between the two monitors.

Here’s the actual statue in my home –

Chalkware Century Old Nipper and 1911 Monarch Replica Gramophone 02-12-19 - Close Up Pulled Back a Bit

and the cast iron figure –

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Also on display is my recently-acquired “His Master’s Voice” antique art mirror –

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a portrait of James Joyce, mantel clock, and I found a vintage lamp and shade to complement my burgundy-and-brass theme –

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a collage I assembled of influential figures in the history of experimental music titled, “The Rest Is Noise” –

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DJ Food (Strictly Kev)’s poster of all the releases from the late Pete Namlook’s ambient FAX +49-69/450464 record label –

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an engraved tea chest –

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and a limited edition t-shirt graphic I framed of post-rock legend Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Faulty Schematics of a Ruined Machine from their majestic F# A# ∞ LP –

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There is also a fun antique style console radio clock –

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and I produced a high-res scan of Brian Eno’s sheet music for his seminal Music for Airports LP and formatted the layout to frame beautifully in a 10×13 frame above my desk.

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And on the far wall behind my desk I’ve framed the Apollo print and a classy 24” x 36” portrait of Miles Davis taken in 1948 in NYC from the Herman Leonard Collection.

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The Persian style area rug finishes off the space nicely, and makes it feel extra cozy.

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It’s a serene work space and really makes me feel at home.

For All Mankind – Brian Eno’s Latest Ambient Work

Brian Eno - Apollo and For All Mankind plus Bonus Poster

I’m very pleased to share the latest arrival at Innerspace Labs – just in from the UK.

I was among the first 250 worldwide to order Brian Eno’s new Extended Edition of Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, the 1983 album he produced with Daniel Lanois and his brother Roger Eno. The music was originally recorded for For All Mankind, a documentary that includes footage from the Apollo 11 moon landing.

This edition featured a new companion album with 11 new tracks “that reimagine the soundtrack to For All Mankind,” the first time the three musicians had collaborated since the recording of the original album, which was newly-remastered for this release.

Brian Eno - Apollo Atmospheres & Soundtracks 2019 Extended Edition.JPG

The first 250 copies sold out within a few hours of the announcement and included a bonus A2 lithograph of the album art showcasing the lunar surface which I immediately framed for my new office, as well as a digital download of the remastered original album and the new bonus disc so I can enjoy the music wherever I travel.

I’m thrilled to experience an entire new album from the master of ambient music, and it is an honor to be among the privileged few to receive the deluxe edition. Another wonderful treasure for my library.

Sony Camera Version of Brian Eno - Apollo Atmospheres & Soundtracks 2019 Extended Edition A2 Limited Edtiion Lithograph Art Print Framed

Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports book by John T. Lysaker

Brian Eno's Ambient 1 - Music For Airports by John T Lysaker 06-30-19

When I learned that Oxford University Press had just published a volume of its Keynotes series wholly dedicated to examining Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports, I raced to secure a copy.

The keynote was written by John Lysaker, the William R. Kenan Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department. Researchgate.net reports Lysaker’s project goal with the book was to provide “a 30,000 word study of Eno’s seminal album. This short study will explore the nature of ambient music, situate the album in 20th century avant garde music practice, and consider multiple forms of listening.”

Lysaker outlines the origins of this exploration in the Acknowledgements:

I test-drove some early thoughts at a meeting of the American Philosophies Forum. This was a great prod in the right direction, and comments from other participants proved useful as the project developed, as did the opportunity to concretize those remarks in an article, “Turning Listening Inside Out” which appeared in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy.

(He also acknowledges) the writings of Geeta Dayal, David Sheppard, Cecilia Sun, Eric Tamm, and David Toop (and included) the titles of their books alongside others in the section called Additional Sources for Reading and Listening. (He also thanks) the tireless laborers that maintain two websites: MORE DARK THAN SHARK and EnoWeb. Each has gathered numerous interviews that are resources for scholars and fans alike.

The Introduction quickly frames the tasks undertaken by the book:

This short study is for listeners who want to think and reflect on what Eno’s LP has to offer, and in a way that deepens future listening rather than replaces it with scholarly prose.

Five chapters and an afterward follow. They blend musical and historical analysis with occasional philosophical reflections on what “music” means in a context as provocative as the one convened by MFA.

Chapter 2: Music for Airports and the Avant-Garde touches upon a number of pivotal composers and works which paved the way for MFA. David Toop’s Ocean of Sound is discussed, as are Debussy, Ives, Schoenberg, Luigi Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer, Edgar Varèse’s Poème électronique, Michael Nyman, La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room, David Tudor, Cage, and Riley’s In C. Lysaker demonstrates how each of these predecessors provided an environment for Eno’s composition and he concludes the chapter by succinctly identifying the properties and musical concepts embraced by Music for Airports:

…in a short book, one is forced to make choices, and I elect to provide what I consider MFA‘s most immediate context… …Rather, I’ve been marking conceptual, technological, and sonic shifts that helped make a record like MFA possible, and we’ve encountered several.

  • Music can be built around something other than a motif, or basic musical phrase.
  • Microtones and the dissonances they introduce can be musical.
  • Traditional harmony (and even harmony altogether) neither exhausts nor is required for a musically legitimate arrangement of sounds.
  • Any sound is suitable material for a musical composition.
  • New technologies for the generation and reproduction of sound are not only welcome but necessary.
  • The presence of unintended sounds, i.e. noise, is an acceptable (and inevitable) part of a musical work.
  • Musical works can productively interact with the sonic environment in which they are produced.
  • Single tones and chords are musically complex and interesting, particularly when sustained for lengthy periods of time or subjected to extended repetition.

Chapter 4: Ambience explores the nature and function of the general umbrella of various ambient musics. Satie’s musique d’ameublement (“furniture music”) is examined, as is divertimenti music of the eighteenth century. Lysaker goes on to contextualize Cage, La Monte Young, Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening album, Moby, Aphex Twin, Thomas Köner, Wolfgang Voigt, Robert Scott Thompson, Max Richter’s Sleep, William Basinski, Stars of the Lid, and FSOL, as well as a brief history of Muzak and the 1950s Capital Records “Moods in Music” series.

Lysaker quotes Eno’s description of MFA‘s movement “away from narrative and toward landscape” and says that “MFA‘s somewhat amorphous and discontinuous sonic material seems to suspend its listeners somewhere in the space between hearing and listening.”

He describes the state of reverie induced by MFA, and suggests that it “enters life differently – obliquely, gently, but nevertheless, at least on occasion, transformatively.”

The final Chapter 5: Between Hearing and Listening – Music for Airports as Conceptual Art effectively summarizes the conceptual nature of MFA:

At one extreme, futurists like Russolo tried to humanize those sounds, creating compositions that strove to translate the sounds of the world into an expanded but nevertheless fully realized musical idiom. At the other extreme, Cage sought to let sounds be sounds through compositions that removed as thoroughly as possible his taste, judgment, and skill as a composer.

When interpreted conceptually, the approaches of Russolo and Cage create an opposition: either (a) art absorbs nature in the self-enlarging process, versus (b) art exposes nature in a self-effacing one. The former offers us culture over nature, whereas the latter labors to displace human activity from an emerging culture-or field-of sounds. MFA eludes this opposition, seeking neither a denatured culture nor an ascetically cleansed field of sounds. Instead, it enacts itself as one aspect of the world operating on another. By working with its world, and by clarifying itself with theories that naturalize the human desire to make art, it presents itself as nature unfolding, taking nature, cybernetically, as a dynamic system of interactions that includes its (and our) own efforts.

Lysaker presents and describes various forms of listening, including background listening, foreground or performance listening, aesthetic listening, adequate listening, and regressive or narcissistic listening. He then offers a metaphor for the reader to consider the type of listening warranted by MFA through a different “lens” of prismatic or immersive listening.

He goes on to observe the subtle differences between listening to MFA across different media formats, from compact disc to vinyl, and then explores the vastly different texture, spaciality, and sonic palette offered by the instrumental realization of the album by Bang on a Can which displaces the monochromatic character of “2/2,” effectively enlivening and humanizing the track.

The book concludes with an Afterward framing the enduring influence of MFA, and the author closes with a brief list of further reading and listening materials. Additionally, Oxford University Press created a website to accompany the book that features audio clips of many musical passages discussed over the course of its chapters.

The short text was a delightful and engaging read, and the philosophy explored by the author is never lost to overly-academic pomp. The book is a thoughtful and knowledgeable reflection on a critically influential work of music which continues to influence and inspire musicians and listeners alike over forty years after its release.

More Minimal Ambient Classics

A visit to the legendary Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY yielded two delightful surprise acquisitions. The first was one of the three of Harold Budd’s 1970s and 80s classic output missing from my vinyl collection – Abandoned Cities. (I now need only The Pavilion of Dreams and The White Arcades to complete my collection.)

Harold Budd - Abandoned Cities

The other was an equally unexpected but similarly important work of early ambient music – a German import from Grönland Records combining two classic recordings of Can’s co-founder, Holger Czukay with the great David Sylvian.

Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability is a double reissue and remaster of their late-80s collaborations experimenting with abstract ambient soundscapes which are sparse, sombre, and atmospheric. Pitchfork contributor Robert Ham remarked that these recordings laid “the groundwork for years of ambient music that would follow.”

David Sylvian & Hogler Czukay - Plight & Premonition and Flux & Mutability

“Each feature two long instrumental works built around drones from a synthesizer or guitar interrupted by random shortwave-radio intrusions and occasionally disorienting tape edits.”

The first disc, Plight & Premonition, originally released in March of 1988, comprises drones of harmonium, synthesizer, piano, and guitar. The second disc, Flux & Mutability followed in 1989. Allmusic describes its ambience as “deep, expansive atmospheres with eerie samples and vacuous walls of sound” and calls the album “an important selection for fans of electronic minimalism.”

Both the Budd classic and this new remaster from Grönland are exquisite additions to my library of pioneering early ambient music. My next ambition is to secure a copy of the Editions EG 1981 reissue of Budd’s debut on Eno’s magnificent Obscure Records label in 1978. The Pavilion of Dreams is ethereal, holy, and exquisitely beautiful and has been a long-standing favorite recording of mine in the realm of the genre’s origins.

Drone Adventures in PaulStretch – Music for Airports Reconstructed

OpenCulture recently posted a feature on a SlowMotionRadio’s stretched and slowed interpretation of Brian Eno’s seminal ambient album, Music for Airports transforming it into a 6-hour meditative drone. But as the track was a YouTube link, it was pretty much useless if the listener wanted to be able to do anything on their device during the 6-hours of playback. Ripping audio from YouTube results in low-bitrate audio so I reconstructed the 6-hour drone myself in Audacity. I figured if I was going to reproduce it from scratch I may as well use the highest quality source so I opted for the lossless DSD 2004/2009 remastered edition by Simon Heyworth of Super Audio Mastering of the original 1978 album and stretched it to the same target duration of the 6-hour video.

The result was vastly different from the YouTube version, due to both the lossless quality and my opting for the remastered source. The attack and decay of each note are vastly more dynamic and nuanced whereas the low-bitrate YouTube video is more of an auditory haze. Perhaps some will prefer it that way, but I was keen to try my hand at the task and am pleased with the results.

I’ve exported it as both archival FLAC and as a high-bitrate 320CBR MP3.

Here’s the YouTube version which inspired the project tonight.

Cluster: Shaping the Sound of Germany

Cluster

Moebius,  Roedelius, and Plank, who performed together as Cluster, were each instrumental figures in the krautrock scene whose influence cannot be overstated. Between the three of them, they had their hands in the composition and/or production of over 300 albums of ambient and experimental electronic music that defined the German scene throughout the 1970s.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius has produced 115 releases to date with a new soundtrack pending. One notable work is his earliest recording finally issued in 2008 – Live at the Zodiak – Berlin 1968 which is a rare surviving example of work from the highly-influential West Berlin live music venue, Zodiak Free Arts Lab.

Conny Plank contributed to 122 albums during his lifetime, including influential releases by Kraftwerk, Can, Cluster, Guru Guru, Harmonia, Eno (for the ‘Berlin Trilogy’), Neu!, La Düsseldorf, and other major figures in krautrock.

Dieter Moebius was another principle artist of the scene. Moebius studied in Brussels and Berlin where he met Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler to found Kluster in 1969, and later Cluster and Harmonia with Michael Rother of Neu!. Moebius is connected to 65 releases I’ll outline below.

I’d previously compiled a similar extended discography for the 178 releases by Tangerine Dream and its associated members’ solo projects, but this archive seems like it will offer a more dynamic range of sounds and shall make for most rewarding listening.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius Extended Discography (115-Release Catalog)

In Bands

In Human Being

2008 : Live at the Zodiak – Berlin 1968 (live album)

In Kluster

1970 : Klopfzeichen (studio album)

1970 : Zwei-Osterei (studio album)

1971 : Eruption (live album, originally released as Kluster und Eruption)

In Cluster

1971 : Cluster ’71 (studio album)

1972 : Cluster II (studio album)

1974 : Zuckerzeit (studio album)

1976 : Sowiesoso (studio album)

1979 : Großes Wasser (studio album)

1980 : Live in Vienna (live album)

1981 : Curiosum (studio album)

1984 : Stimmungen (compilation album)

1990 : Apropos Cluster (studio album, credited to Moebius + Roedelius)

1994 : One Hour (live album)

1997 : Japan 1996 Live (live album, credited to Roedelius Moebius on some editions)

1997 : First Encounter Tour 1996 (live album)

2008 : Berlin 07 (live album)

2009 : Qua (studio album)

In Harmonia

1974 : Musik Von Harmonia (studio album)

1975 : Deluxe (studio album)

2007 : Live 1974 (live album)

In Aquarello

1991 : Friendly Game (studio album, credited to Roedelius, Capanni, Alesini)

1993 : To Cover The Dark (studio album)

1998 : Aquarello (live album, credited as Roedelius solo album)

In Global Trotters (Kenji Konishi, Susumu Hirasawa, Alquimia, David Bickley, Felix Jay, Alex Paterson)

1999 : Drive (studio album)

1999 : GLOBAL TROTTERS PROJECT volume I – DRIVE (remix album)

In Qluster

2011 : Fragen (studio album)

2011 : Rufen (live album)

2011 : Antworten (studio album)

2013 : Lauschen (studio album)

2015 : Tasten (studio album – three pianos project)

2016 : Echtzeit (studio album)

Solo Work

1978 : Durch die Wüste (studio album)

1979 : Jardin Au Fou (studio album)

1979 : Selbstportrait (studio album)

1980 : Selbstportrait – Vol. II (studio album)

1980 : Selbstportrait Vol. III “Reise durch Arcadien” (studio album)

1981 : Lustwandel (studio album)

1981 : Wenn Der Südwind Weht (studio album)

1981 : Offene Türen (studio album)

1982 : Flieg’ Vogel fliege (studio album)

1982 : Wasser im Wind (studio album)

1984 : Auf leisen Sohlen (compilation album)

1984 : Geschenk des Augenblicks – Gift of the Moment (studio album)

1984 : Begegnungen (compilation album)

1985 : Begegnungen II (compilation album)

1986 : Wie das Wispern des Windes (studio album)

1987 : Momenti Felici (studio album)

1989 : Bastionen der Liebe – Fortress of love (studio album)

1990 : Variety of Moods (studio album)

1991 : Der Ohrenspiegel (studio album)

1991 : Piano Piano (studio album)

1992 : Cuando… Adonde (studio album)

1992 : Frühling (studio album) later re-released as Romance in the Wilderness

1993 : Tace! (studio album)

1994 : Sinfonia Contempora No. 1: Von Zeit zu Zeit (studio album)

1994 : Theatre Works (studio album)

1995 : Selbstportrait VI: The Diary of the Unforgotten (studio album)

1995 : Vom Nutzen der Stunden – Lieder vom Steinfeld Vol. I (studio album)

1995 : 61sechzigjahr (compilation album, released privately)

1996 : Sinfonia Contempora No. 2: La Nordica (Salz Des Nordens) (studio album)

1996 : Pink, Blue And Amber (studio album)

1999 : Selfportrait VII: dem Wind voran – ahead of the wind (studio album)

1999 : Amerika Recycled by America Inc (studio album)

1999 : Vom Nutzen der Stunden – Lieder Vom Steinfeld Vol.II (studio album)

2000 : Roedeliusweg (studio album)

2001 : Roedelius 2001 – Orgel Solo (studio album)

2001 : Das Verwirrte Schaf – Wort-Klang Collage zum Aschermittwoch (studio album) 2002 : Selbstportrait VIII – Introspection (studio album)

2003 : American Steamboat (studio album)

2003 : Counterfeit (studio album)

2003 : Lieder vom Steinfeld Vol.III (studio album)

2003 : Roedelius 1969–2002 (compilation album)

2006 : Works 1968–2005 (compilation album)

2007 : Snapshots/Sidesteps (studio album)

2008 : Back Soon (compilation album)

2010 : Ex Animo (studio album)

2016: Manchmal (1 track on 4 tracks compilation EP “past forward”, vinyl release only

2017 Release of Roedelius’ autobiography “Roedelius – Das Buch”

2017 Music for the soundtrack of Nick Cave for the film “War Machine”

2018 Music for the film “Symphony of Now” to be released February 14th

2018 Music for the film “Die Rueden”from director Connie Walther ( not yet released )

Collaborations

With Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother

1997 : Tracks and Traces (credited to either Harmonia ’76 or Harmonia and Eno ’76)

2009 : Harmonia & Eno ’76 Remixes (remix album)

With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius

1977 : Cluster & Eno (credited to Cluster & Eno)

1978 : After the Heat (studio album)

1985 : Old Land (compilation album) (credited to Cluster and Brian Eno)

With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius on Eno’s solo album

1977 : Before and after Science (studio album)

Track: “By This River”

With Alexander Czjzek

1987 : Weites Land (studio album)

With Aqueous

1994 : Grace Notes (studio album)

1997 : Meeting The Magus (studio album)

With Richard Barbieri and Chianura

1998 : T’ai (studio album)

With Alquimia

2000 : Move and Resonate

With Tim Story (sometimes collectively referred to as Lunz)

2000 : The Persistence of Memory (studio album)

2002 : Lunz (studio album)

2005 : Lunz-Reinterpretations (remix album)

2008 : Inlandish (studio album)

With Conrad Schnitzler

2001 : Acon 2000/1 (studio album)

With Fabio Capanni, Felix Dorner, Hirishi Nagashima and Robin Storey

2001 : Evermore

With Lynn

2001 : Act of Love (studio album)

With Nikos Arvanitis

2002 : Digital Love (studio album)

With Noh 1

2003 : Imagine Imagine (soundtrack album, released as Roedelius and Fratellis)

2009 : Fibre (studio album)

With Morgan Fisher

2005 : Neverless (studio album)

With David Bickley

2008 : Bonaventura (studio album)

With Kava

2008 : The Gugging Album (studio album)

With Tim Story and Dwight Ashley

2008 : Errata (studio album)

With Alessandra Celletti

2009 : Sustanza di cose sperata (studio album)

With Christopher Chaplin

2012 : King of Hearts (studio album)

With Andrew Heath and Christopher Chaplin

2017 :Triptych in Blue (live album)

With Lloyd Cole

2013 : Selected Studies Vol. 1 (studio album)

With Leon Muraglia

2015 : Ubi Bene (studio album)

With Mateo Latosa and Cesar Gallegos (aka TKU Tecamachalco Underground)

2016 : Latitudes (music installation for photography exhibition, 2014/studio album release, 2016)

 

Conny Plank (122-Release Extended Discography)

Plank was involved with the following chronological list of albums, either as a direct contributor or because his studio facilities were used. The dates refer to the year of first release.

1969

The Living Music (Alexander von Schlippenbach)

Tone Float (Organisation)

1970

Just A Poke (Sweet Smoke)

Klopfzeichen (Kluster)

Kraftwerk (Kraftwerk)

1971

Zwei-Osterei (Kluster)

Legend (Parzival)

Eloy (Eloy)

Cluster (Cluster)

1972

BaRock (Parzival)

Mournin’ (Night Sun)

43 Minuten (Os Mundi)

Kraftwerk 2 (Kraftwerk)

Neu! (Neu!)

Cluster II (Cluster)

Echo (A.R. & Machines)

Lonesome Crow (Scorpions)

Kan Guru (Guru Guru)

Together (Jane)

I Turned to See Whose Voice it Was (Gomorrha)

Kollektiv (Kollektiv)

Supernova (Ibliss)

1973

Guru Guru (Guru Guru)

Neu! 2 (Neu!)

Ralf und Florian (Kraftwerk)

1974

Autobahn (Kraftwerk)

Zuckerzeit (Cluster)

Free Improvisation (Wired)

1975

Neu! ’75 (Neu!)

Andy Nogger (Kraan)

La Leyla (Ramses)

Hoelderlin (Hoelderlin)

Let It Out (Kraan)

Bröselmaschine (Bröselmaschine)

Mani und Seine Freunde (Guru Guru)

1976

Sowiesoso (Cluster)

Clowns & Clouds (Hoelderlin)

You Won’t See Me (Helmut Koellen)

La Düsseldorf (La Düsseldorf)

1977

Before and after Science (Brian Eno)

Cluster & Eno (Cluster and Brian Eno)

Flammende Herzen (Michael Rother)

Pompeii (Triumvirat)

Rockpommel’s Land (Grobschnitt)

1978

After the Heat (Eno, Moebius, Roedelius)

Ambient 1: Music for Airports (Brian Eno)

Flyday (Kraan)

Durch Die Wüste (Roedelius)

Question: Are We Not Men? Answer: We Are Devo! (Devo)

Out of Reach (Can)

Liliental (Liliental)

Sterntaler (Michael Rother)

Systems of Romance (Ultravox)

Welcome (SBB)

1979

Katzenmusik (Michael Rother)

Selbstportrait (Roedelius)

1980

Crann Ull (Clannad)

Rastakraut Pasta (Moebius & Plank)

Die Kleinen und die Bösen (DAF)

Three into One (Ultravox)

Hunger (The Meteors)

Tournee (Kraan)

Vienna (Ultravox)

Luminous Basement (The Tourists)

1981

Material (Moebius & Plank)

Phew (Phew, with Holger Czukay, Conny Plank & Jaki Liebezeit)

Alles Ist Gut (DAF)

Gold und Liebe (DAF)

Les Vampyrettes (Conny Plank and Holger Czukay)

Stormy Seas (The Meteors) Dutch band

In the Garden (Eurythmics)

Rage in Eden (Ultravox)

Der Ernst des Lebens (Ideal)

Edelweiß (Joachim Witt)

1982

Revelations (Killing Joke)

Latin Lover (Gianna Nannini)

Strange Music (Moebius & Beerbohm)

Für Immer (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft)

1983

Zero Set (Moebius, Plank, and Neumeier)

The Fireman’s Curse (Hunters & Collectors)

Listen (A Flock of Seagulls)

Schlagende Wetter (Kowalski)

1984

Der Osten ist Rot (Holger Czukay)

Belfegore (Belfegore)

Begegnungen (Eno Moebius Roedelius Plank)

Les Rita Mitsouko (Rita Mitsouko)

The Collection (Ultravox)

Puzzle (Gianna Nannini)

Should Have Been Greatest Hits (The Tourists)

The Jaws of Life (Hunters & Collectors)

1985

Humpe Humpe (album) (Humpe Humpe)

Begegnungen II (Eno Moebius Roedelius Plank)

Tutto Live (Gianna Nannini)

Old Land (Cluster and Brian Eno)

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz (Heinz Rudolf Kunze)

Company of Justice (Play Dead)

1986

U-Vox (Ultravox)

Profumo (Gianna Nannini)

1987

The Prophecies of Nostradamus (Bollock Brothers)

Rome Remains Rome (Holger Czukay)

Savage (Eurythmics)

Mein Schatz (Heiner Pudelko) = his final production; finished by Annette Humpe

Posthumous

Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! (Killing Joke, 1992)

Box II (Brian Eno, 1993)

If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox (Midge Ure and Ultravox, 1993)

Rare, Vol. I (Ultravox, 1993)

Rare, Vol. II (Ultravox, 1994)

En Route (Moebius & Plank, recorded 1986, released 1995)

Space Ship (The Best Of, Part 1) (Guru Guru, 1996)

The Best of Ax Genrich (Ax Genrich, 1997)

Greatest Hits (The Tourists, 1997)

Guru Guru & Uli Trepte (Guru Guru and Uli Trepte, 1997)

The Michael Schenker Story Live (Michael Schenker, 1997)

Chronicles, Vol. 1 (Michael Rother, 1998)

Ludwig’s Law (Moebius, Plank, Thompson, recorded 1983, released 1998)

Music For Two Brothers (Rolf & Joachim Kuhn, 1998)

Best (Scorpions, 1999)

The Very Best of Guru Guru (Guru Guru, 1999)

La Luna (Holger Czukay 2000, expanded 2007)

Into The Arena 1972–1995 [Highlights and Overtures] (Michael Schenker, 2000)

Pioneers Who Got Scalped (Devo, 2000)

More Nipples (Peter Brötzmann Group, 2003)

Dieter Moebius Discography (65-Album Map)

As Cluster

Studio albums

1971 Cluster

1972 Cluster II

1974 Zuckerzeit

1976 Sowiesoso

1977 Cluster & Eno (with Brian Eno)

1978 After the Heat (by Eno, Moebius and Roedelius)

1979 Grosses Wasser

1981 Curiosum

1991 Apropos Cluster (by Moebius and Roedelius)

1995 One Hour

2009 Qua

Live albums

1980 Live in Vienna – Recorded with Joshi Farnbauer

1997 Japan 1996 Live

1997 First Encounter Tour 1996

2008 Berlin 07

2015 USA Live

Compilation albums

1984 Begegnungen (with Brian Eno, Conny Plank)

1984 Stimmungen

1985 Begegnungen II (with Brian Eno, Conny Plank)

1985 Old Land (with Brian Eno)

2007 Box 1 (boxed set)

As Kluster

1970 Klopfzeichen (studio album)

1971 Zwei-Osterei (studio album)

1971 Eruption (live album)

2008 Vulcano: Live in Wuppertal 1971

2008 Admira

2008 Kluster 2007: CMO (studio album)

2008 Kluster: 1970-1971 (Box Set)

2009 Kluster 2008: Three Olympic Cities Mix (studio album)

2009 CMO 2009: Three Voices (germany-usa-japan) (studio album)

2011 A unique remix of the material from Kluster 2007 featured in the Compilation CD VOL K compilation by Zelphabet Records.

2011 Kluster CMO 2010 (studio album)

As Harmonia, with Michael Rother and Hans-Joachim Roedelius

1973 : Musik Von Harmonia

1975 : Deluxe

1997 : Tracks and Traces (recorded 1976 with Brian Eno)

2007 : Live 1974 (Previously unreleased works)

As Cosmic Couriers, with Mani Neumeier and Jürgen Engler

1996 : Other Places

2014 : Another Other Places

With Brian Eno and Hans-Joachim Roedelius

1977 : Cluster & Eno

1978 : After the Heat

With Liliental

1978 Liliental

Solo albums and collaborations

1980 Rastakraut Pasta (with Conny Plank)

1981 Material (with Conny Plank)

1981 Strange Music (with Gerd Beerbohm)

1982 Zero Set (with Conny Plank and Mani Neumeier)

1983 Tonspuren

1983 Double Cut (with Gerd Beerbohm)

1986 Blue Moon (Original Soundtrack)[7]

1990 Ersatz (with Karl Renziehausen)

1992 Ersatz II (with Karl Renziehausen)

1995 En Route (with Conny Plank; recorded in 1986, additional mix in 1995)

1998 Ludwig’s Law (with Conny Plank and Mayo Thompson)

1999 Blotch

2002 Live in Japan (with Mani Neumeier)

2006 Nurton

2007 Zero Set II (with Mani Neumeier)

2009 Kram

2011 Ding

2012 Moebius & Tietchens (with Asmus Tietchens)

2014 Snowghost Pieces (Moebius, Story, Leidecker)

2014 Nidemonex

Posthumous Albums

2017 Musik Für Metropolis

2017 Familiar (Moebius, Story, Leidecker)

2017 Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Live) (12″) (Moebius, Schneider)

 

And for those interested in the aforementioned Tangerine Dream library, you can peruse the index below.

 

Tangerine Dream (178-Disc Catalog)

 

Bootmoon Series

2004 – Aachen – January 21st 1981 – 2CD

2005 – Brighton – March 25th 1986 – 2CD

Studio Albums

1970 – Electronic Meditation

1970 – Electronic Meditation/Electronic Meditation

1971 – Alpha Centauri

1972 – Ultima Thule (2008) – 2CD

1972 – Zeit

1973 – Atem

1975 – Rubycon

1976 – Stratosfear

1978 – Cyclone

1979 – Force Majeure

1981 – Exit

1982 – White Eagle

1983 – Hyperborea (2008 HQCD)

1985 – Dream Sequence – 2CD

1985 – Le Parc

1986 – Green Desert

1986 – Underwater Sunlight

1987 – Tyger

1988 – Optical Race

1989 – Destination Berlin

1989 – Lily on The Beach

1990 – Melrose

1992 – Quinoa

1992 – Quinoa (2009)

1992 – Rockoon

1993 – Dream Music (the movie music of Tangerine Dream)

1994 – Tangents 1973-1983 (BOX) – 5CD

1994 – Turn of the Tides

1995 – The Dream Mixes – 2CD

1995 – TimeSquare Dream Mixes II

1995 – Tyranny Of Beauty

1996 – Goblin’s Club

1997 – Towards The Evening Star (Orb Remix)

1998 – Ambient Monkeys

1998 – The Analogue Space Years 1969-1973 – 2CD

1999 – Atlantic Bridges

1999 – Atlantic Walls

1999 – Dream Encores

1999 – Mars Polaris

1999 – The Hollywood Years Vol 1

1999 – The Hollywood Years Vol 2

2000 – Antique Dreams

2000 – The Seven Letters From Tibet

2001 – Dream Mixes III

2002 – Journey Through a Burning Brain – 3CD

2003 – The Bootleg Box Set Vol 1 – 7CD

Set 1 – Sheffield – Oct 29th 1974 – City Hall

Set 2 – London – April 2nd 1975 – Royal Albert Hall – 2CD

Set 3 – Live at Croydon Fairfield Halls – 23rd October 1975

Set 4 – Bilbao – Jan 31st 1976 – Pabellion de la Casilla – 2CD

Set 5 – Electronic Rock at the Philharmonics – Berlin – June 27th 1976

2004 – Dream Mixes IV

2004 – Purgatorio – 2CD

2005 – East

2005 – Jeanne D’Arc

2005 – Space Flight Orange

2006 – Blue Dawn

2006 – Metaphor

2006 – Nebulous Dawn [The Early Years] – 3CD

2007 – Booster – 2CD

2007 – Canyon Cazuma (2009)

2007 – Cyberjam Collection

2007 – Madcap’s Flaming Duty

2007 – One Times One

2007 – Silver Siren Collection

2007 – Springtime In Nagasaki

2007 – Summer In Nagasaki

2007 – Tangines Scales

2008 – Autumn In Hiroshima

2008 – Booster Vol 2 – 2CD

2008 – The Anthology Decades

2008 – Views From A Red Train

2009 – A Cage in Search Of A Bird

2009 – Flame

2009 – Plays Tangerine Dream

2009 – Winter In Hiroshima

Live Albums

1982 – Pergamon (Live)

1984 – Poland (Live)

1988 – Live Miles (Live)

1993 – 220 Volt (Live)

1998 – Tournado (Live)

1998 – Valentine Wheels (Live)

1999 – Sohoman (Live)

2000 – Soundmill Navigator (Live)

2002 – Inferno (Live)

2003 – Rockface (Live) – 2CD

2004 – Live in America (Live)

2005 – Rocking Mars (Live) – 2CD

2006 – Paradiso (Live) – 2CD

2007 – Bells Of Accra (Live)

Soundtrack Albums

1977 – Sorcerer (OST)

1981 – Thief (OST)

1983 – Risky Business (OST)

1983 – Wavelength (OST)

1984 – Firestarter (OST)

1984 – Flashpoint (OST)

1985 – Heartbreakers (OST)

1985 – Legend (OST)

1987 – Near Dark (OST)

1987 – Three O’Clock High (OST)

1988 – Shy People (OST)

1989 – Miracle Mile (OST)

1990 – Dead Solid Perfect (OST)

1991 – Canyon Dreams (OST)

1991 – Rumpelstiltskin (OST)

1991 – The Park Is Mine (OST)

1994 – Catch Me If You Can (OST)

1996 – Zoning (OST)

1997 – Oasis (OST)

1997 – The Keep (OST)

1999 – Great Wall of China (OST)

1999 – Transsiberia (OST)

1999 – What A Blast (OST)

2003 – Mota Atma (OST)

Solo Artists

Christopher Franke

1991 – Pacific Coast Highway

1992 – The London Concert

1992 – Universal Soldier

1993 – New Music for Films – Vol 1

1994 – Enchanting Nature

1995 – Klemania

1996 – Perry Rhodan – Pax Terra

1996 – The Celestine Prophecy

1999 – Epic

Peter Baumann

1979 – Trans Harmonic Nights

Johannes Schmoelling

1986 – Wuivend Riet

1988 – The Zoo of Tranquillity

2009 – A Thousand Times

Edgar Froese

1974 – Aqua

1975 – Epsilon In Malaysian Pale

1979 – Stuntman

1983 – Pinnacles

1995 – Beyond The Storm – 2CD

2003 – Ambient Highway Vol 1-4

2003 – Introduction To The Ambient Highway

2004 – Dalinetopia

Singles

2007 – One Night In Space (CD-Single)

2007 – Sleeping Watches Snoring In Silence (CD-Single)

2008 – Choice (CD-Single)

2008 – Das Romantische Opfer (CD-Single)

2008 – Fallen Angels (CD-Single)

2008 – Purple Diluvial (CD-Single)

Remasters

1974 – Phaedra (1995 SBM Remaster)

1975 – Ricochet (1995 SBM Remaster)

1977 – Encore (Live)(1995 SBM Remaster)

1979 – Force Majeure (1995 SBM Remaster)

1981 – Thief (1995 SBM Remaster)

1982 – Logos (1995 SBM Remaster)

1982 – White Eagle (1995 SBM Remaster)

1983 – Hyperborea (1995 SBM Remaster)

2000 – Axiat (2009 Remaster)

2007 – Hollywood Lightning (2009 Remaster)

2007 – Mars Mission Counter (2009 Remaster)

Brian Eno: Oblique Music

Brian Eno - Oblique Music Book

Oblique Music is a 2016 collection of essays examining Eno’s work as a musician, as a theoretician, as a collaborator, and a producer. It was published by Bloomsbury Publishing, who also released my favorite musicological text, Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. The book is divided into two primary collections of essays – the first pertaining to Eno as composer, musician, and theorist, and the second section on “The University of Eno” exploring his work as a producer, collaborator and ethnographer.

The book’s introduction dives right into Eno’s early influences. Crucial to Eno’s early development as an artist, in addition to his experiences at The Fine Art Department at Ipswich in the mid-sixties, was Beers’ book The Brain of the Firm which Eno received from Jane Harvey, the mother of his first wife. The central insight of the text was this idea: “instead of specifying it in full detail, you simply ride the dynamics of the system where you want to go.” This resolved the stubborn dilemma of how one can get anywhere creatively if they don’t know what or where their destination might be. Beer’s insights were incorporated into Eno’s strategies as he moved from the quasi-hierarchical working structure of Warm Jets to his present position – that of a key part of the creative system, but not necessarily its centre.

It is this very tenet of Eno’s philosophy which attracts me to his generative work – that Eno endeavors to remove the ego from his artistry and instead he merely engineers the conditions from which his process music will commence and then permits the system to run its course. There seems to be an almost Eastern / Buddhist perspective about this approach to musical composition, and I find it infinitely more satisfying than the proud and declarative concrete structures typical of rock music.

Chapter 1: The Bogus Men explores the forcefully and glamorously modern synthesis of style and experimentation pioneered by Roxy Music in the early 1970s. Quoting Allan Moore, essayist David Pattie describes how the band managed to create a sound world in which ‘the traditional instrumental relationships are frequently and subtly overturned.’

The virtual environment of sonic space is examined structurally as three component parts – localized space,  spectral space and morphological space, and contrasts are drawn between the sonic environments of Roxy Music’s “Do the Strand” from 1973 and Eno’s “Discreet Music” from 1975. The essay closes touching upon the creative divergence of Eno and Ferry and the unsustainability of the Roxy Music project. “Ferry,” Pattie describes, “was drawn towards the shaping of a musical object; Eno, then and now, preferred to explore systems and processes.” This tension led to the breakdown of their relations.

Chapter 2 explores Eno’s non-musicianship, his experimental tradition, and his strategy of deliberately selecting musicians who would be incompatible with one another, as well as creating conditions wherein the performers are not able to hear each other to introduce unexpected interactions. Both the Portsmouth Sinfonia and The Scratch Orchestra are examined. The chapter closes drawing parallels between the non-musical properties of Discreet Music and Satie’s Musique d’ameublement (“furniture music”) from a half-century before. The chapter addresses the fundamental differences between the teleological nature of traditional musical structures and what Eno calls the ‘hypothetical continuum’ of experimental music.

Describing his ‘non-musicianship,’ Eno remarks,

“Since I have always preferred making plans to executing them, I have gravitated towards situations and systems that, once set into operation, could create music with little or no intervention on my part. That is to say, I tend towards the roles of the planner and programmer, and then become an audience to the results.”

In chapter 3: Taking the Studio By Strategy, David Pattie offers an examination of Eno’s creative process. Pattie calls attention to Eno’s serendipitous taxi accident which created the circumstances inspiring his discovery of ambient listening, via the now legendary tale where Eno was bedridden and unable to turn up the volume on a barely-audible recording of eighteenth-century harp music. He also describes Eno’s incorporation of chance into otherwise strictly-structured systems. And like his contemporary Cornelius Cardew, his approach to composition permits hierarchical structures to give way to a more heuristic process. However, Pattie notes, Eno endeavored not to simply recast the compositional framework of Reich’s Music As a Gradual Process, but incorporated the artists’ response to the introduction of chance, via what Eno termed, “scenius” or communal genius.

Chapter 5 by Mark Edward Achtermann entitled Yes, But Is It Music? views and analyses Eno’s earliest ambient works through several lenses and philosophies of established artistic theory beginning with Tolkien’s critique of allegory and aesthetic theory, as well as Collingwood’s 1938 Principles of Art. Eric Tamm’s 1989 book, Brian Eno: His Music and The Vertical Color of Sound is also touched upon to frame the merit of music employing static harmony and timbral homogeneity. It was interesting to see ambient music framed by Tolkien’s theory, specifically his argument that art provides three great benefits: escape, recovery, and consolation. Achtermann proposes that Eno both confirms and challenges this theory. Further parallels are drawn between the systems at play in Eno’s ambient compositions and Lazlo’s evolutionary theory.

The final chapter of Book One entitled The Voice And/Of Brian Eno examines Eno’s post-humanist use of voice in song “to chart the convulsions at the boundaries of race, gender, and the human.” The use and manipulation of voice on albums released between 1991 and 2014 are explored, as are other artists who have synthesized and otherwise technologically manipulated voices of “post-human ventriloquism” in popular song from the 1940s to contemporary artists like Boards of Canada, DJ Shadow, and Giorgio Moroder.

Sean Albiez quotes P.K. Nayar’s Transhumanism proposing that Eno “explores strategies that emphasize co-evolution, symbiosis, feedback, and responses as determining conditions rather than autonomy, competition, and self-contained isolation of the human.” And it is that “loss of ego,” that concept of “scenius” which makes him such a powerful critical force of the post-human perspective.

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Part 2 is entitled, The University of Eno and explores his work as a producer and collaborator.

Chapter 8: Before and After Eno contextualizes Eno’s seminal lecture, ‘The Recording Studio as a Compositional Tool’ and how Eno “acts as a nexus between historical and contemporary currents in experimental, avant-garde, and popular musics.” Parallels are drawn between Eno’s musical philosophy and that of John Cage, as well as those of Satie, Varèse, Russolo, Schaeffer, and other pivotal music theorists of the era of recorded sound. Albiez and Dockwray demonstrate that Eno reiterated ideas many decades in the making but that his work is noteworthy due to his unique position in bridging the early & twentieth-century avant-garde with later experimenters in popular music.

Interestingly, not all of the essays are voices of praise. Elizabeth Ann Lindau offers some important criticism in chapter ten of the ‘ethnographic surrealism’ of Byrne and Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and its role in cultural anthropology. Further criticisms are presented in the final chapters detailing Eno’s role as producer for Devo and U2 as well as in the closing chapter where Martin James’ briefly examines Eno’s curation of the no wave scene in 1978 with the album, No New York.

Oblique Music effectively contextualizes the many facets of Eno’s work throughout the course of his illustrious career. And I appreciated that the text wasn’t all one-sided praise, but instead sheds light on the friction between Eno and his many collaborators. The book also excels at outlining Eno’s musical philosophy without being overly academic and makes for a stimulating survey of one of the most influential artists and producers of the century.