One of life’s universal truths is that Brian Eno is cool. The collar-feathered, gangly limbed, pretty-boy Seventies Brian Eno is cool - the nice-suit, take your breath away blue eyed Eno is cool - the greying, 'yeah I’m ENO who fucking cares' pinned tweet Eno is definitely cool. So of course, not satisfied with turning one-dimensional musicians such as U2 into transcendent megastars; and right after he declared himself a 'non-musician' - Eno expanded his already incredible repertoire out of music into soundtracks for expansive, life-shuddering, paradigm-shift inducing, art.
Now, for the first time, he brings us a collection of these love-letters to the soundscape; in the six volume mantra-mold Music for Installations. This collection of his most ambient and interesting soundtracks is presented here in a contemporary art crescendo; and features the good, the better and the synthesized from his artsy endeavours.
The collection provides us with all the evidence we need to prove that Eno remains the clear king of the discordant, ambient universe. Whilst six volumes of sanitised drones, whistles, clicks and half-harmonies may seen inaccessible from the exterior; on listen - you find that Music for Installations is anything but.
It's music for spas run by bleached eyebrow goths from Berlin. Spas with massage therapists who sport mullets like Yolandi Visser, black-eyed contact lenses who’ll bless the room with sage before they invite you in. Ethereal. Exciting. Danger, but only slight. The sparse knowledge that you’ll finish the record changed, even if that change is only slight.
Music for Installations is the soundtrack you throw on to write to. Its soundscapes invite your brain across the creative volcanos of purgatory. Like Eno himself, this musical landscape excites, instead of irritates, and encourages you to drop your best creative idea into the river and watch the ripples as they flow out into a master plan.
Of course then, there are stand out tracks. From the glittering birth-rite of ‘Kazakhstan’, which welcomes you not only to the record but to Eno’s world itself, with its pulse and deep inhale of our first moments in the world - to the tribal rain-dance faux-deity worship of ‘Needle Click’; this collection shows that ambient music can take you on the most rollercoaster of journeys. Each piece then, sums up a specific place, and time. Sometimes these places and times are not of this world. ‘Light Legs’ hums with the giddy excitement the Human Race’s first communications with aloof alien beings, where ‘Liquidambar’ offers a more intimate affair. The unravel and tame of that eternal serpent in your spine, entangled in your energy points, ready to bite.
And like this unravel sits Eno’s music itself. For those familiar with Kundalini and Transcendental Meditation philosophies, Eno’s Music For Installations sits somewhere comfortably between the two. It has the sweet parallel of both styles of mindfulness; the ability to quiet and centre yourself in the most crowded of situations - and the unravel of power in thy true creative self; to set off fireworks of inspiration in your liminal mind.
Here we have then, the beauty of these expansive six volumes. The track choices are as at home in your ears to calm-your-nerves-on-the-tube-on-a-busy-Friday night as they would be in an Ashram. Its ambience, but for everyday life, and who better than Eno to usher you into these generative landscapes? No-one better, that’s who.
Those with AMSR may find it sets off the tingle-in-the-spine sensation - but unlike other, more wildcard records of ambience, Eno manages this all somehow with the sense your hand is being firmly held. That if you fall on your journey through the volumes, a slender arm might reach down from the heavens, dust you off, and sit you carefully back on your feet. This is music to expand your consciousness, but here, in the comfort of Mister Cool, it is very much safe to do so.
9Nicoletta Wylde's Score