Boomkat Product Review:
Out of print on vinyl for over 30 years, Brian Eno’s foundational ambient recording is finally placed back in circulation, newly remastered.
While we could be here all day debating when ambient music really became a “thing” (others may argue it was ‘Discreet Music’ or Harold Budd’s ‘The Pavillion of Dreams), the putative consensus remains that Brian Eno birthed the genre, proper, with ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’.
Originally dispensed in 1978, it is perhaps one of the most commonly referenced ambient recordings in the history of electronic music, marking the point where musical composition became conceptually and truly decentered, diffused, and practically taken out of the composer’s hands, yet still conveys something ultimately human; serving to enhance or encourage our unique ability to reflect, meditate (ok, so I saw a video of Goat meditation the other day, so maybe we’re not that unique?!).
Brian Eno’s 6th studio album, ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ was conceived while waiting hours for a flight at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in response to the airport’s uninspired sound atmosphere. I’m actually struggling to think of what airports sound like now, apart from cackling hen do’s and crying kids, but we can imagine that ‘70s airport muzak could have been seriously bland. Enter Eno and his cosmic imagination, who imagineered the solution with synths and tape loops, and the help of peers such as Robert Wyatt, who provides the keys looped up on ‘1/1’, along with engineering by Conny Plank and longterm collaborator Rhett Davies.
It’s maybe hard to imagine ambient music without this record. From the radiant serenity of the first part, to the angelic choral drift of the 2nd and 3rd sections, thru to the shimmering, quietly optimistic promise of the 4th part, this is a record that defines the ideal of sublime and contemplative music - sound freed of heavy-handed connotation, and succeeding by way of gentle, unchallenging inference.