A WEEK OF ENO INSTALLATIONS — DAY 2

DAY TWO / DISC TWO

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An ambient alphabet

amnesiac

background

calming

deep

environmental

featureless

gentle

hypnotic

interior

jointless

keyless

limpid

minimalist

nocturnal

open

peaceful

quiet

restful

soothing

transparent

unobtrusive

vacant

waveless

xenial

yawn

zen

77 Million Paintings

small celestial gongs

wisps of synths

tones that reverberate for so long you forget where they began

varying shades of white

a post-hypnotic vagueness

suggestive, undefined sounds

knowing, yet unfamiliar—expected yet unknown

calming if ignored

lift the volume—unsettling

focused yet blurred

space, always space

enough to get lost in

Is reviewing ambient music an oxymoron? The central idea is to have a background wash of non-intrusive sounds, an aural tint, a salt bath to float upon so that you don’t really notice the music itself. Can ambient music be pushed to the foreground? Is that another oxymoron?

If, by definition, ambient music is meant to underpin rather than dominate, to flavour rather than direct, to hover rather than jostle, what is there to review? Varying shades of nothing?

Confronted with the six discs of this set, I brought in my reviewer’s template, the same one they taught us in Literature 101: compare and contrast. But there is a point where the variations that produce contrast are so small as to become meaningless. We float on a Sargasso Sea where a mere breath catches the attention… but only for a moment. It’s a world of drifting, of forgetting, a musical dementia. 

Which begs the question, how many ambient albums does one need? A tinkly one, a whispering-synth one, a sounds of nature one… Maybe you only need one, in which case it would be Music for Airports. 

Perhaps. 

If only I could remember…

13 comments

  1. As David Crosby so eloquently said, “If I could only remember my name.” I think the answer to your rhetorical question of how many ambient albums is, as many as one wants.” I now want this sad really bad. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, eh? Thanks, Bruce! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eye and ear, Marty. Ear and eye.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “how many ambient albums does one need?” Until a few years ago my answer would have been “eh – none”.

    That’s changed though. I’d maybe say “a couple”. Cause sometimes it’s nice just to feel like you’re floating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    I need many.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting, I gave up on Eno after a couple of very lacklustre recent releases. I just can’t see that I’d ever listen to this, no matter how good it was, like you’ve touched on I probably have all the ambient I need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a few on a portable device in a playlist entitled ‘Rest’. Often I forget what artist belongs to which gentle sounds. Which is OK… though it is hard to imagine what an ambient music trainspotter would spot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My ambient playlist is called ‘Write’, because that’s what I use it for; as musical non-silence, I suppose you could say.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Next: DAY TWO / DISC TWO […]

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  6. There was nothing ambient about this review Bruce – the words didn’t drift into the background as I enjoyed reading them!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad. I the four I’ve written so far, this was my favourite. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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