Brian Eno  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Brian Eno (born 15 May, 1948 in Woodbridge, Suffolk) is an English electronic musician, music theorist and record producer. As a solo artist, he is probably best known as the father of modern ambient music.

With an art school background and inspiration from minimalism, Eno first came to prominence as the keyboard and synthesizer player of the 1970s glam and art rock band Roxy Music. After leaving the group, Eno recorded four highly idiosyncratic and original rock albums, before turning to more abstract soundscapes on records such as Discreet Music (1975) and Ambient 1/Music for Airports (1978). Since then he has made dozens of albums, many with similarly-minded collaborators such as Harold Budd, Cluster, John Cale and Robert Fripp.

Eno also became involved in pop music collaborations beginning in the late 1970s, joining David Bowie on his avant-garde 'Berlin Trilogy' and helping to popularise the band Devo and the punk rock-influenced "No Wave" scene. Eno is also notable for introducing the concepts of chance music to pop and rock and roll. Eno's production and songwriting credits include critical and commercial successes by Talking Heads and U2, such as Remain in Light.

Eno has pursued several artistic ventures parallel to his music career, including visual art installations, a regular column in the newspaper The Observer and, with artist Peter Schmidt, Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards recommending various artistic strategies.

Contents

Solo work

Eno embarked on a solo career almost immediately. Between 1973 and 1977 he created four solo albums of electronically inflected pop songs – Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World and Before and after Science. Tiger Mountain contains the galloping "Third Uncle", one of Eno's best-known songs, due in part to its later being covered by Bauhaus. Critic Dave Thompson writes that the song is "a near punk attack of riffing guitars and clattering percussion, 'Third Uncle' could, in other hands, be a heavy metal anthem, albeit one whose lyrical content would tongue-tie the most slavish air guitarist."

All four of his vocal albums were remastered and reissued in 2004 by Virgin's Astralwerks label. Due to Eno's decision not to add any extra tracks of the original material, a handful of tracks originally issued as singles have not been reissued. ("Seven Deadly Finns" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" were included on the deleted Eno Vocal Box set and the single mix of "King's Lead Hat" has never been reissued.)

During this period, Eno also played three dates with Phil Manzanera in the band 801, a "supergroup" that performed more or less mutated selections from albums by Eno, Manzanera, and Quiet Sun, as well as covers of songs by The Beatles and The Kinks.

In 1972, Eno developed a tape-delay system first utilized by Eno and Robert Fripp (from King Crimson), described as 'Frippertronics', and the pair released an album in 1973 called (No Pussyfooting). It is said the technique was borrowed from minimalist composer Terry Riley, whose tape delay feedback system with a pair of Revox tape recorders (a setup Riley used to call the "Time Lag Accumulator") was first used on Riley's album Music for The Gift in 1963. In 1975, Fripp and Eno released a second album, Evening Star, and also played several live shows in Europe.

Eno was a prominent member of the performance art-classical orchestra the Portsmouth Sinfonia - having started playing with them in 1972. In 1973 he produced the orchestra's first album The Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics (released in March 1974) and in 1974 he produced the live album Hallellujah! The Portsmouth Sinfonia Live At The Royal Albert Hall of their infamous May 1974 concert (released in October 1974.) In addition to producing both albums, Eno performed in the orchestra on both recordings - playing the clarinet. Eno also deployed the orchestra's famously dissonant string section on his second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). The orchestra at this time included other musicians whose solo work he would subsequently release on his Obscure label including Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman. That year he also composed music for the album Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy, with Kevin Ayers, to accompany the poet June Campbell Cramer.

Eno continued his career by producing a larger number of highly eclectic and increasingly ambient electronic and acoustic albums. He is widely credited with coining the term "ambient music", (Prendergast, The Ambient Century: p.93) low-volume music designed to modify one's perception of a surrounding environment.

His first such work, 1975's Discreet Music, (again created via an elaborate tape-delay methodology, which Eno diagrammed on the back cover of the LP ), is considered the landmark album of the genre. This was followed by his Ambient series (Music for Airports (Ambient 1), The Plateaux of Mirror (Ambient 2), Day of Radiance (Ambient 3) and On Land (Ambient 4)). Eno was the primary musician on these releases with the exception of Ambient 2 which featured Harold Budd on keyboard, and Ambient 3 where the American composer Laraaji was the sole musician playing the zither and hammered dulcimer with Eno producing.

In 1981, having returned from Ghana and before On Land, he discovered Miles Davis' 1974 ambient jazz dirge "He Loved Him Madly": "Teo Macero's revolutionary production on that piece seemed to me to have the "spacious" quality I was after, and like "Amarcord", it too became a touchstone to which I returned frequently."

In 1980 he provided a film score for Herbert Vesely's Egon Schiele Exzess und Bestrafung also known as Egon Schiele Excess and Punishment. The ambent style score was an unusual choice for a historical piece but fits the film's themes of sexual obsession and death and is highly effective, possible his best film score.

Eno describes himself as a "non-musician" and coined the term "treatments" to describe his modification of the sound of musical instruments, and to separate his role from that of the traditional instrumentalist. His skill at using "The Studio as a Compositional Tool" (the title of an essay by Eno) led in part to his career as a producer. His methods were recognized at the time (mid-1970s) as unique, so much so that on Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, he is credited with 'Enossification'; on Robert Wyatt's Ruth is Stranger Than Richard with a Direct inject anti-jazz raygun and on John Cale's Island albums as simply being 'Eno'.

Obscure Records label

Eno started the Obscure Records label in Britain in 1975 to release works by lesser-known composers. The first group of three releases included his own composition, Discreet Music, and the now-famous The Sinking of the Titanic (1969) and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971) by Gavin Bryars. The second side of Discreet Music consisted of several versions of Pachelbel's Canon, the composition which Eno had previously chosen to precede Roxy Music's appearances on stage, to which various algorithmic transformations have been applied, rendering it almost unrecognizable. Side 1 consisted of a tape loop system for generating music from relatively sparse input. These tapes had previously been used as backgrounds in some of his collaborations with Fripp, most notably on Evening Star. Only 10 albums were released on Obscure, including works by John Adams, Michael Nyman, and John Cage. At this time he was also affiliating with artists in the Fluxus movement.

Collaboration

In 1975 Eno performed as the Wolf in a rock version of Sergei Prokofiev's classic Peter and The Wolf. Produced by Robin Lumley and Jack Lancaster, the album featured Gary Moore, Manfred Mann, Phil Collins, Stephane Grapelli, Chris Spedding, Cozy Powell, Jon Hiseman, Bill Bruford and Alvin Lee. In 1980-81 Eno collaborated with David Byrne of Talking Heads (which he had already anagrammatized as 'King's Lead Hat') on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which was built around radio broadcasts Eno collected while living in the United States, along with sampling recordings from around the world. He worked with David Bowie as a writer and musician on Bowie's influential 1977-79 'Berlin Trilogy' of albums, Low, "Heroes" and Lodger, on Bowie's later album Outside, and on the song "I'm Afraid of Americans". In 1980 Eno developed an interest in altered guitar tunings, which led to Guitarchitecture discussions with Chuck Hammer, former Lou Reed guitarist. Following on from his No-Wave involvement which brought him in contact with the "renegade" artist Greg Belcastro, who introduced him to the guitar techniques of a fledgling Sonic Youth, Eno has also collaborated with John Cale, former member of Velvet Underground, on his trilogy Fear, Slow Dazzle and Helen of Troy, Robert Wyatt on his Shleep CD, with Jon Hassell, with the German duo Cluster, with composers Harold Budd, Philip Glass and Roberto Carnevale. A new collaboration between David Byrne and Brian Eno titled Everything That Happens Will Happen Today was released digitally on 18 August 2008, with the enhanced CD released in October.

1990s

In 1992, Eno released an album featuring heavily syncopated rhythms entitled Nerve Net, with contributions from several former collaborators including Robert Fripp, Benmont Tench, Robert Quine and John Paul Jones. This album was a last-minute substitution for My Squelchy Life, which featured more pop oriented material, with Eno on vocals. (Several tracks from My Squelchy Life later appeared on 1993's retrospective box set Eno Box II: Vocals.) Eno also released in 1992 a work entitled The Shutov Assembly, recorded between 1985 and 1990. This album embraces atonality and abandons most conventional concepts of modes, scales and pitch. Much of the music shifts gradually and without discernible focus, and is one of Eno's most varied ambient collections. Conventional instrumentation is eschewed, save for treated keyboards.

During the 1990s, Eno became increasingly interested in self-generating musical systems, the results of which he called generative music. The basic premise of generative music is the blending of several independent musical tracks, of varying sounds, length, and in some cases, silence. When each individual track concludes, it starts again mixing with the other tracks allowing the listener to hear an almost infinite combination. In one instance of generative music, Eno calculated that it would take almost 10,000 years to hear the entire possibilities of one individual piece. Eno has presented this music in his own, and other artists', art and sound installations, most notably "I Dormienti (The Sleepers)", Lightness: Music for the Marble Palace, Music for Civic Recovery Centre, The Quiet Room and "Music for Prague".

2000s

In 2004, Fripp and Eno recorded another ambient collaboration album, The Equatorial Stars.

Eno returned in June 2005 with Another Day on Earth, his first major album since Wrong Way Up (with John Cale) to prominently feature vocals (a trend continued with Everything That Happens Will Happen Today). The album differs from his 70s solo work as musical production has changed since then, evident in its semi-electronic production.

In early 2006, Eno collaborated with David Byrne, again, for the reissue of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in celebration of the influential album's 25th anniversary. Eight previously unreleased tracks, recorded during the initial sessions in 1980/81, were added to the album, while one track, Qu'ran, was removed due to requests from Muslims.

An unusual interactive marketing strategy that coincided with its re-release, the album’s promotional website features the ability for anyone to officially and legally download the multi-tracks of two songs from the album, "A Secret Life" and "Help Me Somebody". Individuals can then remix and upload new mixes of these tracks to the website so others can listen to and rate them.

In late 2006, Eno released 77 Million Paintings, a program of generative video and music specifically for the PC. As its title suggests, there is a possible combination of 77 million paintings where the viewer will see different combinations of video slides prepared by Eno each time the program is launched. Likewise, the accompanying music is generated by the program so that it's almost certain the listener will never quite hear the same arrangement twice. The second edition of "77 Million Paintings" featuring improved morphing and a further two layers of sound was released on 14 January 2008.

In 2007, Eno's music was featured in a movie adaption of Irvine Welsh's best-selling collection Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.

Also in 2007, Eno contributed a composition titled "Grafton Street" to Dido's third album, Safe Trip Home, scheduled for release in November 2008.

In December 2008 Paramount Pictures confirmed Brian Eno is scoring music for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of “The Lovely Bones,” set to be released in December 2009.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Brian Eno" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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