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Brian Eno - Music for Films CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.34 | 99 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Not bad! The name of this album is actually fairly deceptive; while many of this album's tracks would eventually be used in various films as part of their soundtracks, none of them were originally conceived as such. Rather, Eno created soundtracks for pieces of imaginary films (i.e. films that, at the time, existed only in his head). I suppose that, on a certain level, that's pretty much what most of Eno's ambient work is, but he hasn't really been so explicit about it to this point as he is here, so that's something new and notable, I suppose.

So anyway, this album keeps a fairly good balance of "pretty" and "weird," and while the two sides don't gel as perfectly as they did on, say, Another Green World (not to mention that there are no "normal" songs to complement these two sides), they gel well enough to make this into a moderately enjoyable listening experience. The good news about the "pretty" songs is that, while some of them do fall into the category of "tapping almost mindlessly on one keyboard note at a time, making it destined solely for background listening," a number of them derive their prettiness from something at least somewhat different from this stereotype of ambient music. "From the Same Hill," for instance, makes extensive use of single, firmly-plucked acoustic guitar notes that almost end up sounding Spanish to my ears, while the three part "Sparrowfall" relies on a minimalistic synth-piano melody so bloody gorgeous that I could die a happy man while listening to it. I'm also very fond of "Events in Dense Fog," which really matches its name for me; it actually sounds to me like there's something resembling a "real" melody in there, but it gets intermittently covered up and obscured by, well, whatever the musical equivalent of fog would be. Color me impressed.

The weird stuff, though, is where this album really earns its keep. "Alternative 3," for instance, strikes me as the sort of thing that would have been perfect to play for that part in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the team of scientists is approaching the monolith on the moon; it's just so alien, for lack of a better word, that I want to keep hearing it again and again. "There is Nobody" conveys a similar sense of alien landscape gloom as well. Switching mood gears, "Patrolling Wire Borders" has a nagging low-pitched synth-cello sound that actually does make it seem appropriate for a spying scene in a war movie, while "Task Force" would be perfectly appropriate for an elite military, well, task force moving in close to its main target.

The real highlight, though, is "M386," which I think many people will appreciate just because it's basically the only track on here to make extensive use of multiple underlying rhythms and textures, making it sort of a throwback to the days of Another Green World, except for being a lot more disturbing than anything from there. All sorts of low- pitched moans and growls jump out at me when listening to this, and in conjunction with the "main" synth melody laid on top of everything, this track seems to me just as much of a classic as any other instrumental tracks Eno had done to this point.

Alas, there are a lot of other tracks on this album, and while they're certainly acceptable background listening (meaning I don't consider them bad), it says something that, even after a good seven or eight listens to this album, I still can't figure out what the heck to say about them. The biggest drawback to this album, overall, is that while there's an interesting balance of mood due to the relatively large number of tracks, there's actually a fairly limited amount of blatant imagery due to the tracks not sticking around long enough to prompt a tangible vision to associate with them. Regardless, though, if that's not the kind of thing that you consider most important in listening to ambient-based music, you'll very likely enjoy this album, and it should definitely be picked up at some point.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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