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Brian Eno - Ambient 1 - Music for Airports CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.61 | 200 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Brian's back in science project mode, and this time he's barely making any attempts to cover this up; what else can be said in view of his giving these tracks the purely informative titles of "1/1," "2/1," "1/2" and "2/2?" This was apparently the soundtrack to a multimedia presentation that received display in, you guessed it, an airport, and while it was hugely innovative for its time, it strikes me as not having stood the test of time as well as some of Brian's other works of this nature. It's not even that it's "boring" per se; I mean, all ambient music, on an easily discernable level, is boring, and I still like some of it. Alas, though, this album isn't even that pretty, and much of it strikes me as having the same fundamental "coldness" that bugged me on Discreet Music. Yes, there's a bit more "actual" composition going on in this album (especially in the first track) than on there, but it's not by much, and the more experimental aspects are disconcerting enough to not make it work that well as background music either.

The notable exception is the opening (duh) "1/1," a collaboration with Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine and one Rhett Davies in which, for about 17 minutes, Wyatt plays a piano melody repeatedly while Eno augments the melody with his synths. Aside from the fact that the melody snippets are really quite lovely, there's an underlying rhythm (believe it or not) to the whole thing that I find very soothing and hypnotic. It's like, I dunno, listening to the tide ebb and flow on the shores of the sea; this may not be the most exciting listening prospect, but for me, this track does a terrific job both pleasing my ear and soothing my soul, and what else is ambient for if not that?

Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn't quite work on the same level for me. "2/1" features the encoded vocal harmonies of three women played in a bunch of ways over nine minutes, and for whatever reason the way they manifest themselves here doesn't move me in anywhere near the same way the melodies of "1/1" does. "1/2" brings back the piano of "1/1," but the feel is a lot more, I dunno, sporadic than on "1/1," and while I could see the voices here working in a relaxing manner in a different context, the way they come out here isn't extremely convincing. And finally, "2/2" is certainly pleasant enough, but it's not really any kind of "pretty" that I can sign off on. I don't hate it, but I could certainly be perfectly happy to never hear it again.

In the end, the album comes out to a fairly low ***. It's not offensive, and about 30% of it is totally great for what it is, but the rest of it strikes me as little more than "average" ambient music. It's important, yes (I mean, what album can you think of that could have been called Rock 1 or Pop 1?), but I probably won't break this out again for a very long time.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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