On January 1st, Brian Eno released his latest excursion into ambient music – Reflection.

The 54-minute album continues a long line of work in which the composer has been toiling since 1975’s Discreet Music, having single-handedly popularised the idea of ‘ambient music’.

While the term has been co-opted by many other artists, none of them consider, contextualise, present and rationalise their work quite like Eno. In the accompanying blurb to Reflection, he noted that people are using his ambient work in the way he uses them – “as provocative spaces for thinking”.

Reflection, like much of his recent work was made generatively – that is a composition which a basic foundation of sounds and phrases are developed and some programmatic rules are applied to it to change the sounds, resulting in a different outcome each time. The album has also been released as an app version that is generative.

The recorded version of Reflection is one such outcome. As Eno suggests, it works well for background music, for the soundtracking of other activities.

“Reflection is so called because I find it makes me think back. It makes me think things over. It seems to create a psychological space that encourages internal conversation. And external ones actually – people seem to enjoy it as the background to their conversations. When I make a piece like this most of my time is spent listening to it for long periods – sometimes several whole days – observing what it does to different situations, seeing how it makes me feel. I make my observations and then tweak the rules. “


On the same day as the album’s release, Eno, ever the enlightened thinker, wrote a note on Facebook which equally set out a provocative place for thinking and suggests he’s been doing a lot of reflecting himself. Over the same period of time since Eno invented ambient music, he suggests that a process of decivilisation has occurred that we’re only noticing now and offers some way forward to look in a new year.

“Last year people started waking up to this. A lot of them, in their anger, grabbed the nearest Trump-like object and hit the Establishment over the head with it. But those were just the most conspicuous, media-tasty awakenings. Meanwhile there’s been a quieter but equally powerful stirring: people are rethinking what democracy means, what society means and what we need to do to make them work again. People are thinking hard, and, most importantly, thinking out loud, together. I think we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realised it’s time to jump out of the saucepan.

“This is the start of something big. It will involve engagement: not just tweets and likes and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action too. It will involve realising that some things we’ve taken for granted – some semblance of truth in reporting, for example – can no longer be expected for free. If we want good reporting and good analysis, we’ll have to pay for it. That means MONEY: direct financial support for the publications and websites struggling to tell the non-corporate, non-establishment side of the story. In the same way if we want happy and creative children we need to take charge of education, not leave it to ideologues and bottom-liners. If we want social generosity, then we must pay our taxes and get rid of our tax havens. And if we want thoughtful politicians, we should stop supporting merely charismatic ones.

“Inequality eats away at the heart of a society, breeding disdain, resentment, envy, suspicion, bullying, arrogance and callousness. If we want any decent kind of future we have to push away from that, and I think we’re starting to.

“There’s so much to do, so many possibilities. 2017 should be a surprising year.”

Posted on January 4th, 2017

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I spend most of my day listening to music of all tempos and styles, so when I get close to the night, and bed is calling, I rarely put on music. I used to fall asleep with headphones in my ears but those times are gone and sleep is more precious. Occasionally, my head will be buzzing too much with work and plans that I can’t relax. Music can help then.

Here’s a 3-hour Spotify playlist featuring music for such an occasion, for sleep-inducing, quiet times, for background noise, for night-marches into a deep consciousness or whatever you’re having your self.

It features music, ambient, atmospheric and minimal from Aphex Twin, M83, Brian Eno, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Jon Hopkins, Ebauche, Burial, John Foxx, Julianna Barwick, Tangerine Dream, Air, Stars Of The Lid, Boards Of Canada, Harold Budd, Laraaji, Arca, Nils Frahm and more. It will be updated again in future so subscribe. In the meantime, press shuffle and drift off when appropriate.

Next up on the themed playlists? Halloween, Running, morning time or something else? Let me know.

Listen to the ambient playlist

Nialler9 on Spotify.

Posted on October 22nd, 2015

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This weekend’s Hay Festival programme in Kells is full of talks about books, food, art and history among other things and includes speakers like Lynda La Plante, Anne Enright, Myles Dungan, Diarmaid Ferriter, Rosanna Davidson and Brian Eno…

Wait, what? Eno and Rosanna at the same festival. Amazing.

Eno will be in the Meath town to discuss his career with Sinead Gleeson as well as participate in a talk about freeganism and food production.

Here’s his illuminating RBMA talk.

 

 

Posted on June 24th, 2015

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The fledgling label Aesop has this year given us a fine EP from Iranian/English electronic producer TĀLĀ, and for their second release, with the London/Frankfurt-based musician(s) Sylas, not only is the music intricate, deeply-detailed and advanced in writing, their debut EP also features the genius that is Brian Eno on it, after chance encounters lead to both parties working on projects together.

‘Shore’ is the opening track from the EP, a delicate expression, that undulates in emotion with gently-shaded synths and pin percussion. It gives the song an eighties feel with reverbed production, that most immediately, because the singer has a similar timbre to Justin Vernon. It’s the line “water / someone save this burning house that sticks,” but fair warning, this needs a couple of passive listens to truly seep in.

Posted on November 5th, 2014

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Strands, the solo project of producer Stephen Shannon will be releasing a self-titled debut this month on October 22nd. To celebrate, Steve put a great mix of folk and electronic music together featuring tracks from Brian Eno, Mice Parade, Dosh, Apparat, Four Tet, Caribou, Flying Lotus and of course, a track from Strands‘ called ‘Littoral’.

A launch gig takes place the same night in Crawdaddy. His band will be made up of members of Halfset, Adrian Crowley and more. You can follow him on Twitter too.

Strands Mixtape by Strands

Tracklisting..»

Posted on October 14th, 2010

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