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One Of The Original Ambients

Brian Eno
Ambient 1: Music For Airports

If you've done any reading or research on ambient music, you've no doubt heard this album mentioned as a classic in the genre. It was created way back in the 1970's, and although different artists had created ambient music before this, it was sort of a groundbreaking release in it's stark minimal-ness. It's like 50 minutes of wallpaper music and the term "ambient" music was actually coined by Eno near to the release of this disc. It's one of those releases that you can have playing in the background for hours while you're working on something else, and not be distracted. It's also one of those discs that if you sit down and listen to very closely, you'll almost certainly fall into a state of hypnosis.

Arranged in 4 sections ("1/1," "2/1," "1/2," and "2/2"), it's a concept album of sorts. The first piece drifts along with repetitive piano tinkling and synth washes, as well as occassional deep chimes that reverberate softly behind it all. The 16-minute piece progresses ever so slightly, with different variations of the central musical themes. The second track is made up of synthed-out sweeps of three different female vocal parts and although it's pretty for awhile, the 8-minute time frame on the track seems a bit long. Still, this is "discreet music" (as Eno labeled) it and not necessarily meant for determined listening.

The third movement is sort of a combination of the first two tracks, although the piano part from the first piece has morphed into something slightly different to fit better with the sweep of vocals. Blended together, it makes for probably the strongest track on the album and although it's still fairly base in terms of elements that it includes, the multi-layered track is quite beautiful. The fourth piece is a little darker in tone than the first two pieces and is a solo synthesizer piece that perhaps is projecting a new sound that the combination of the first two pieces have morphed into. It sounds somewhat random in structure and conception, but the sounds are warm and soft and it provides a nice ending to the release.

One of the closest modern pieces that echoes the work of Eno on Music For Airports is Aphex Twins double-CD opus Selected Ambient Works: Volume 2. As with all ambient music of the minimal variety, whether you like it or not depends on your tolerance of both repetitive-ness and the quiet nature of the music itself. This is not an album that picks up at any times, but it does contain many moments of beauty. Whether it's a classic or not is still debateable, and I'm sure that it will be for quite some time. Regardless of the argument, it's still a pioneer in the genre.

Rating: 8.25