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)

Worthwhile Dilemmas

Today I am delighted to have become the proud owner of a deck of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s infamous Oblique Strategies cards.

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Subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas, these decks were first published in 1975 and are currently in their fifth edition. Each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists and musicians overcome mental blocks by encouraging lateral approaches to their creative works. The cards feature instructions such as:

  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
  • Towards the insignificant
  • Give way to your worst impulse
  • Tape your mouth
  • Do something boring
  • Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
  • Work at a different speed

 

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Personal photo of my newly-received deck

 

The letterpress printed cards are housed in a black box with gold reflective lettering. There was also a limited edition of 500 boxes in burgundy rather than black issued in 2013.

While early editions command hundreds or even thousands of dollars on eBay, (there are at present two autographed first edition decks listed for $2,499.00 and $3,299.00 respectively), I was very pleased to find decks of the latest edition available from www.enoshop.co.uk for about $46 including shipping to the United States. It really is a small price to pay for such an influential and inspirational cultural artifact.

 

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Autographed and numbered first edition deck from 1975 currently for sale on eBay

 

Brian Eno has been one of the most instrumental figures in my creative development. I’ve been following his visual works, his music, multimedia installation pieces, and his philosophy for the entirety of my adult life. In 2009, I created an infographic of his work as a writer, artist, and producer titled, Enography (The Grand Unified Theory of Contemporary Music). It really is a privilege to finally have claimed one of these decks for my own.

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