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Brian Eno - Ambient 4 - On Land CD (album) cover

AMBIENT 4 - ON LAND

Brian Eno

 

Progressive Electronic

3.98 | 220 ratings

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Rune2000
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I wasn't really sure if I would actually write this review or not seeing that it's one of Brian Eno's ambient music projects. But after reading the somewhat biased reviews posted here on the site I decided that it was my mission to share with you the opinion of someone who generally finds it difficult listening to ambient music.

Although Ambient 4 : On Land may not be the first (No Pussyfooting or Discreet Music) nor the most famous ambient album in Brian Eno's catalog (Ambient 1: Music For Airports), still this recording has a definite historic value which in some cases might even make it just as significant as Eno's '70s output!

My first encounter with the genre was when I purchased the 1995 live album by Robert Fripp titled A Blessing Of Tears: 1995 Soundscapes, Vol. 2. This release also marked my first Robert Fripp solo album experience so naturally I had certain expectations regarding to the nature of the music I was about to hear. It can be said with all certainty that I was completely shocked by the first experience because I honestly didn't know what to make of this whole experience. Since then I've been very careful regarding my ambiance music purchases.

Returning after the successful and highly influential collaboration albums with David Byrne and Talking Heads, Brian Eno didn't waste much time and went back to his explorations of sound and loops which he labeled as ambient music. The album marked the final part in Eno's ambient series which began in 1978 with Music For Airports. Due to the ambient nature of this recording the music will sound different to everyone who experiences it but there are definitely a few general points that are still worth mentioning. The atmosphere here is unusually dark for an Eno ambient recording and it might even be considered the first major step into the dark ambient territory which began to emerged in the late '80s and early '90s music scene. Therefore On Land might actually be considered just as much of a landmark album as some of the praised Brian Eno releases of the '70s.

The most surprising discovery that Eno encountered during the work with this particular release was that he realized the limitations of the synthesizer sound which made him shift his instrumentation approach to electromechanical and acoustic instruments. Eventually he went even further with technique by incorporating non-instruments like pieces of chains, stick and even stones! This whole project became so ambitious that Brian Eno even decided to give the listener suggestions as to how one should experience this music. The liner notes of the album feature a diagram of a three-way speaker system installation showing even the exact location where the listener must be seated in order to properly experience the music!

On Land is an album that required some time to get into and I definitely recommend reading up on the recording sessions in between the listening to the album since it aided my experience tremendously. Although I'm still very much on the fence when it comes to ambient music this is probably the closest that I've come to actually appreciating it for what it is and in exchange expanding my musical horizons even further.

I can't recommend On Land as an introduction to ambient music and if you are interested in that then I suggest some of the more melodic transitional ambiance pieces on Another Green World. This is a tough ambient experience but none the less an excellent such and I highly recommend it to everyone who is already familiar with the genre.

***** star songs: The Lost Day (9:12) A Clearing (4:07)

**** star songs: Lizard Point (4:34) Tal Coat (5:27) Shadow (3:00) Lantern Marsh (5:31) Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills) (5:26) Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960 (7:10)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |

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