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Brian Eno - Discreet Music CD (album) cover

DISCREET MUSIC

Brian Eno

 

Progressive Electronic

3.26 | 70 ratings

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Matti
3 stars This must be one of the most 'experimental' and at the same time one of the most serene albums in Archives. I put passages of Eno's own notes here to tell what's it about: "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." 31-minute title track is the first way: "If there is any score for the piece, it must be the operational diagram of the particular apparatus I used for its production. The key configuration here is the long delay echo system (...) Having set up this apparatus, my degree of participation (...) was limited to A) providing an input - in this case, two simple and mutually compatible melodic lines of different duration stored on a digital recall system - and B) occasionally altering the timbre of the synthesizer's output by means of a graphic equalizer."

The other way is exemplified in 3 variations of Pachelbel's Canon (performed by The Cockpit Ensemble/ Gavin Bryars). Each performer is given a varied set of instructions how to handle a small section of the score, and the result is on the hands of mathematics. For example, each player's tempo is decreased in various rates, or each player has a sequence of different length, and the original relationships break down.

Sounds more like science than music, huh? But all the music in this CD is surprisingly pleasant, no cacophony. Pachelbel variations are like slowed down baroque mixed with modern chamber music, but even if they're not "composed" in a common sense, they work nicely. 'Discreet Music' is ambient in its essence. It is here where Eno describes how he found a new way of hearing music, lying hurt on a bed without being able to turn the stereo's volume up. The sounds of the environment added colour. "It is for this reason I suggest listening to the piece at comparatively low levels, even to the extent that it frequently falls below the threshold of audibility."

How can one rate this experiment? I'm not so sure if this is a moment of pure ingenuity in the history of music. To make music technically with the least possible participation is hardly something to win audience's admiration. If the result sounded irritating, I would call it emperor's new clothes, but as this music can be both ignored and enjoyed in ameditative way, I rate it in the middle.

Matti | 3/5 |

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