Brian Eno’s influences is very diverse. He has exposed himself to a variety of genres for rock to classical, from avant-garde to experimental, as well as world genres such as Arabic and African. Growing up, Brian’s sister would bring home American records from the local U.S. Air Force base’s PX. Brian would listen in wonderment to this “Martian Music,” so much different to what England was putting out at the time. He was fascinated by sound itself, always experimenting with recorded sound to make new sounds. He has also singled out Velvet Underground and the Who as personal influences of the 60’s. (Tamm, 1988)
Lets take a look and compare Brian’s first solo album “Here Come the Warm Jets” and his one of his latest solo albums “Small Craft on a Milk Sea”
Each album is at one end of Brian’s career. You can easily how much he has evolved over 40 years. “Here Come the Warm Jets,” released in 1973, offers the somewhat eerie styling of the 70’s with a little bit of a psychedelic groove. In the first 2 tracks, you have a standard pop rock base of the time (not unlike David Bowie’s works in the same era). However, Brian offers his unique twist with random sounds from who knows where. The same could be said about “Baby’s on Fire” were the groove is kind of creepy with the synth in the background. The rest of the album follows suit with a very Revolver-esque Beatles feel. Its a very “trippy” musical journey, with ups and downs and everything in between.
“Small Craft on a Milk Sea” was released in 2010, and offers a more relaxed feeling. Since 1975, Brian has put out more and more “ambient” music. This is music without the basic “song stucture” and without a typical vocal arrangement. This album features some relaxing melodies and orchestration (such as Emerald and Lime or Small Craft on a Milk Sea) and some fast-paced aggressive music (such as Flint March and Horse). Most of the music reminds me of something I would hear in a movie or in a video game. “Paleosonic” is a track that reminds me of some new age 80’s electronic music I would listen to back when I was a kid.
In comarison, the two albums clearly show how technology has given Brian more of a broader canvas to work with, even though back in the 70’s he made his own canvas to play on. Regardless that the 2 records are quite different, you can see Brian’s unique brush stroke on each.
Brian set himself apart from other producers by seeing the studio as an instrument, and not just a place to record music. He would use nature to mix in with his music. He would masterfully blend natural noises, such as croaking frogs, shifting sand, and rubbed stones with synthetically treated sounds into a serene “drifting music.” Growing up, Brian endlessly fixed and modified tape recorders and similar machines. Unable to play an instrument, Brian focused on experimenting with recorded sound. He would record random noises and manipulated the tapes, playing them backwards or at different speed, or both. With this he was able to create fascinating sound sculptures and collages.(Howard, 2004)
As a whole, his contributions to the music industry has helped mold generations of new wave and electronic music. He paved the way of taking noises that might be annoying or unpleasant by themselves, and create masterpieces with them. As a listener, I can appreciate the techniques involved in making his complex music. I found some of his music enjoyable, while others somewhat unpleasant.
Until Next Time,