Brian Eno is one of the most essential artists to shape the music industry both in terms of artistry and production. Eno has helped pioneer the genre of Ambient and Generative music. He has played a crucial part in producing albums for other bands such as U2 and Coldplay. Eno does not consider himself to be a musician but more of an experimenter and someone who explores theories in making art.
Throughout the 1970s, Eno pioneered new ideas in rock music through experimentation with effects and writing styles. Some of his best known work from this time was with Robert Fripp from King Crimson. These new techniques and trials lead to a series of ambient albums a few years down the road that were produced and majority written by Eno. One of the most popular of these albums, and the one that gets a lot of recognition was Music for Airports (Ambient 1).
The following is a song by song review of Music for Airports.
1/1: Probably the most memorable song as well as the most known from this collection. This piece is undoubtedly my favorite from the album. It’s melody is very simple yet, through careful orchestration and mixing, it seem to evolve over time as the piece goes on. The “B” section, as one may call it, of this piece provides the listener with a great counter melody to the one that started the piece. It echoes an air of completeness like the complimentary phrase found in a classical/romantic piece centuries earlier. This piece will always be the first thing in my mind when I think of ambient music or recommend to a friend some ambient works they need to check out.
2/1: The haunting choir sounds in this piece may seem fake or synthesized, but to me their generation through electronic devices and pathways lends to a sound that with careful listening does sound organic in it’s own right. Choral music has an incredible history and is always changing and embracing new frontiers. It may seem that new music and techniques often are found on the voice or through vocal performance and then manifest in other forms of music later. The opposite is also true however. In this case it is hard to say what the influence is here, and whom this piece may have influenced. One obvious answer is countless musicians before and after respectively. The melody and chords in this piece give an ethereal feel and airy tone to this piece. I would rank this among some of the great choral works of modern classical as well as renaissance works because it is a first of it’s kind. A completely generated choir that is musical and moves the listener the same way a real choir would.
½: This song artistically blends the two main elements from the first two movements (if you’ll let me call them that) into one work. It features piano and choir. Each exchanging phrases like falling leaves into a brook. This is my rainy day song. I’m kind of kidding but it is so mellow that it brings one’s mood to a more relaxed state. The back and forth of the piano and choral melody compliment each other perfectly that you want to hear the other when only one is playing. It leaves one’s ears longing for more. The whole piece features variations in all the same melodic parts, but where they enter and exit as well as the timbre changes as the piece goes on. It is really unique. I love meditating to this piece and highly recommend that you do as well if you enjoy meditating to music.
2/2: When the last movement comes on you know in your heart it is the ending. The melody and movement of phrases heralds that this is the concluding statement. I absolutely adore the synth orchestra sounds. The drone notes throughout the piece is a characteristic so indicative of ambient music nowadays I can only imagine hearing that for the first time. I used to think of this piece as a “synth song.” Now, after studying orchestration and music theory while in college, I hear this as piece as something akin to the ending of a symphony. I hear the voices of the instruments trading amongst an orchestra. The lines and phrases moving from player to player. I hear a theme that is both hopefully with just a tinge of nostalgia. This piece is one that has the most potential to grow on a listener. It features sections just as any song or classical tune would. It makes use of various instruments and sections in an orchestra. I mean instruments as in terms of tonal and timbral range in this case. As I had mentioned earlier, these are synthetic sounds. However, I find it really easy to look past this conception and just hear this as with the rest of the music as natural and pure. It is so round and smooth in sonority that it is easy to lose oneself in the sound. If there is one pice on this entire album that speaks for the history of all music before it, this is the one.
When all is said and done, you need to go out and listen to these four pieces on your own. I do not want to sway your opinions as everything I have written is of course up to debate. This is merely how I feel about this work. You have every right to disagree and have your own opinions because that is what music is all about!
I almost always listen to this album in order but I feel as though this music lends itself to non-linearity. I have no doubt this set of music can be played in any order. Get creative! For me, this music will be timeless. It is meant to exist in the background but I have played it for sleep, homework, studying, and just enjoyment. It lends itself to be what ever you want it to be. There are very few composers out there that I can think of that have the ability to express an idea in this way. So, if you have not dived into this world of ambient music, I can recommend that this album is a great way to start.