A WEEK OF ENO INSTALLATIONS — DAY 6

DAY SIX / DISC SIX

Music For Future Installations

I have an LP of compositions for glass harmonica. Mozart wrote several. “Unnoticed Planet”, the first piece on disc six, has clear, ringing notes hanging suspended in space. Plenty of thin air, enough to enjoy the decay of these glass-like notes.

Listening to the final disc on headphones, late at night, I feel a little conflicted. I’ve enjoyed this journey in Enoworld and part of me does not want it to end. But another part of me has had enough formless distance music, at least for now. Maybe I’ll put on a Ramones record and explore a mash-up. 

“Unnoticed Planet” is beautiful and serene, its atmosphere full of scattered silver fireflies, the distance between them as entrancing as their points of light.

Asking your ears to be an open satellite dish to these interstellar worlds, yet retain enough focus to enable language centres and typing fingers was a task destined to produce conflict. 

“Liquidambar” sounds like a slowed down recording. If I had the vinyl, I’d up the speed to 45rpm to see what it sounds like but I don’t so instead I imagine a scene from Tarkovsky’s Solaris. The tuttering drums and eerie spears of synth build tension. Foreboding. The future installation this music accompanies would not be a chirpy bit of art. No indeed.

As “Sour Evening (Complex Heaven 3)” takes over, the return to photon sprays of high register notes is a relief. Though the immediacy of headphone sound means the cosmic high tension is inside my head, not infiltrating the lounge-room. Perhaps I should drop the volume and forget description in favour of simply drifting with the oscillator flow. After all, there is just the eighteen minute “Surbahar Sleeping Music” to go and we can all get some sleep. 

The surbahar is a bass sitar. How intriguing. Although in Hindi it literally means “Spring melody”. 

A treated bass note announces the beginning of the final piece. There is a string-like timbre in these sounds, an electrical plucking and low reverberation. Something that could be a harmonium plays a few dissonant chords; perhaps this is some kind of Indian homage.

As “Surbahar Sleeping Music” settles into a dreamlike landscape of shifting dunes, Eastern textures forgotten.

I reflect on Music For Installations. Having listened to each CD at least three times, I know half of it half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of it half as well as it deserves. I also realise I still don’t know how to write about ambient electronica. Or perhaps the inherent paradox is unresolvable. But I have a box full of Eno I can dip into at will, extract a brightly coloured lozenge, place it onto the tongue of the CD player, and know something will emerge that, if not always soothing, will certainly stimulate my brain to wander in other, imagined lands. 

To drift down Eno’s endless river, always changing always the same…

Thank you to those who have taken this six-part journey through Music For Installations.

You are invited to comment on any or all of the posts, ask questions, or offer your own thoughts on ambient music.

*

Next: The author will attempt to juggle three blogs simultaneously.

22 comments

  1. I had no idea that a bass sitar existed – and that it translates to Spring Melody is a delightful bonus!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Unnoticed Planet” is lovely. Reminded me of riding in the backseat of my parents’ car, coming home from a weekly visit to my grandmother’s – – late on Sunday nights, a local station plays a program from San Francisco, “Music from the Hearts of Space.” We always made the hour drive on back roads through the country, so it was dark enough to look at the stars, and quiet enough to enjoy the music.
    “Surbahar Sleeping Music” was a bit more somber and metallic sounding, I enjoyed it, dreamlike, but would hesitate to fall asleep to it.
    I’ve heard glass harmonicas played in Philly and Boston, and really enjoyed it. The musician in Boston was a street performer, if you can believe it, who set up near Paul Revere’s house. She offered to play a bit of any national anthem we could name. I asked for South Sudan, and got a dirty look. But I think she could’ve played a bit of “Surbahar” and people would buy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read about that SF radio program, Robert. Lovely to hear a first-hand memory.
      Your response highlights for me how this music works – you hear, drift, reminisce, connect, disconnect…
      Thanks for sharing your responses.
      – Bruce

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Do you feel like you’ve completed a bit of a marathon undertaking?

    When do you see yourself listening to it again? I ask this because I’ve blocked myself off from buying a couple of things recently that I’ve thought ‘it would be nice to own, but I can’t see myself playing it much’. I accept this may be a passing phase of mine!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A marathon indeed. The stats make interesting reading too. After a strong start, many runners fell by the wayside!
      Having loaded some of the discs onto the hard drive, I can imagine streaming an ambient playlist in the evening (while writing, as you previously observed). But I cannot imagine ever listening to all six discs sequentially again. In fact, I reckon I might have almost enough Eno-ambient for the time being. Loved ‘Reflection’ though, so who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please note that readership can depend on many things and is not necessarily a direct indication of the level of interest in any particular topic. In my case, there’s been a lack of time for my love of blogging — reading, commenting, as well as posting.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Duly noted Danica! And of course absolutely true. I’ve become lamentably behind in my blog reading of late myself, so I’m certainly not casting the first stone.
          Having said that, always nice to see your little avatar pop up. Hope you’re well as well as busy.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I feel as though I should post one big apology! This series is intriguing and the idea inspired — don’t let numbers give you any other impression!
          Thanks, I woke up in the afternoontime today, with a ripple of panic until I verified it was in fact Sunday. I think it means I need more sleep on a regular basis, lol.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Well, it’s such a relaxed and laid back time of year. Shouldn’t be a problem catching up on some naps, Danica. 😉

          Liked by 2 people

        4. “Video Killed the Radio Star” just came on the radio. I always hear “Oh yes we can!!!!” now. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Not at all. The song is more entertaining now. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I could see myself strapping in for the listening experience on this (just the kind of guy I am). Your take had lots of insight plus lots of your usual Bruce-isms. For me it would be finding the time to bracket to give it a listen. You have more than piqued my interest. Good stuff Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, CB. It was interesting to run such a long series, but I’m ready for something different now!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you. Time for a change of pace. I’d be interested in what choice you make.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like an interesting disc. I particularly like the sound of Unnoticed Planet. That’s quite the description. Anyhoo, I’ve made a note of the tracks and I’m gonna make a playlist of sorts and see what the results are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good plan! Within the broad confines of under-stated music, there’s plenty of variety to enjoy (in the right mood!).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maybe now that you’ve added critiqual mass to it, I will find myself drawn into ‘Music For Installations’.
    (But perhaps like ‘Timeless’ it may take time)
    Thanks Bruce.
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps. How are you going with Timeless, btw?

      Like

  7. Tried to leave comment but locked. Really enjoyed and will return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Humph! Must be WordPress. Will check it out.

      Like

  8. I started with good intentions. Kazakhstan was very pleasant listening. The Ritan Bells were OK, but disappointing by comparison. My reaction to the next four tracks was a noncommittal shrug. And then I gave up. Sorry!

    I should add that I have nothing against ambient music, it’s just that these were too unstructured to hold my attention for very long. It’s nice to drift along for a while but I’d still like to feel I’m going somewhere. Perhaps, as you said, you need the visual side of the installations for the full effect.

    Like

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