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


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.98 | 220 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Back to solo; back to suck? Well, not really (and actually, Music For Airports wasn't exactly suck per se), but it's not as striking as either of the two collaborations that immediately proceed this. The liner notes feature Eno going on about various philosophies related to music that evokes "a sense of place," as well as the various aspects that go with these memories, but for all of his various pontificating, I kinda end up wishing that all this thought and production effort went into some more interesting music. I mean, I do like the album for the most part, and it works decently as background music, but it's a smidge more minimalistic than I like even for the ambient genre.

The album starts on a fairly promising note, with a couple of tracks making extensive use of low, rumbling synth sounds not used very much to this point in Eno's work. The opening "Lizard Point" also has a cool spacey feel that's much like what one later finds on Apollo, and while I can't really feel the contributions of Eno's collaborators on this track (this is the only track on the album, btw, that's not credited solely to Eno), it's a fine bit of bleak mood setting. "The Lost Day" is a bit overlong at 9+ minutes, but it has a GREAT menacing theme that repeatedly pops up starting a couple of minutes in, and it really gives a sense of, I dunno, being trapped in a dark place and completely losing all sense of time (hence making each day spent in this place a "lost day").

Following these two tracks is what I consider the peak of the album, the effect-laced "Tal Coat." It might seem a bit disconcerting to have these incessant bleeps and bloops up against sounds of bubbling water and the various synth textures, but for some reason it seems to entrance me just fine. Besides, it has that nice little piano snippet that pops up about two-and-a-half minutes, which gives an unexpected dose of beauty to the proceedings, and the intensity of the synths picks up after this, so there you go.

After this point, though, the album starts to lose me a bit, though absolutely none of it offends me in any way. I can give a half-hearted thumbs up to "Shadow," which combines various Easterny wind instruments playing discordant bits over processed samples of the kind of sounds you'd hear at night deep in the woods, but what comes afterwards has more or less completely escaped me. I mean, the last four tracks all set fairly emotional moods into which I can basically lose myself while listening, but the moods are still awfully abstract, and not much really sticks to my ribs. I like how "A Clearing" has a, well, clearer sound to it than the tracks around it, playing up the title well, but that's about all that jumps out at me. Well, ok, I do get a feeling of mourning when listening to "Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960," but that's about all I can say.

Still, all in all, this is a perfectly decent, perfectly solid piece of background music, and one I have no problem giving a solid *** to. Parts of it really suck me in, and the rest of it basically interests me when it's playing, and that's enough for me with ambient. Maybe you might consider giving a grade as high as a *** to an album that just works on that level to be extreme, but I'll just say that I'd be just as willing to listen to this at random as, say, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour or any other *** album I know.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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