Release Date: Nov 13, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Ambient, Avant-Garde, Experimental Ambient, Experimental Electronic, Structured Improvisation
We’ve all fallen victim to life’s commotion at some point or another. Now more than ever, there’s the constant need to remain plugged in to e-mails, Twitter timelines, or Instagram photos, no matter how much it might detract from the experiences of actual reality. Despite the hustle-n-bustle, you have to sit still sometimes and appreciate those brief moments of reflection.
Take the piss out of ex-Roxy Music man Brian Eno all you want – “He’s the Nick Clegg of the music world… an empty vessel”, Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield once quipped – but there’s no denying his ability to chill you the hell out. Take his umpteenth solo album and third for Warp, which sees the David Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads and U2 producer doing what he does best: creating ambient music with the power to subtly shift your mood. ‘Lux’ pulses and phases, barely changing key or dynamic throughout its 75 minutes.
Brian Eno has been a busy guy as of late. He recently unveiled his most recent (note: not his only) iPad app called Scape, created a building-sized light and sound show in Rio De Jeneiro called “77 Million Paintings” and within the same year he managed to produce a 75-minute, 12-part, four-movement ambient composition called Lux. Oh and Lux actually began its life as a sound art installation for the Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy.
Brian EnoLux[Warp; 2012]By Josh Becker; November 20, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGLux is Michael Jordan doing a layup on an empty court; it’s Tiger Woods playing a par-3 hole; it’s Mario Batali making a cheese pizza. In other words, it’s a master of his craft going back to the basics. Over the course of its 75 minutes Brian Eno revives the placid minimalism of earlier favorites like Music For Airports, Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks, Thursday Afternoon, and Neroli.
The master minimalist may have outdone himself. Eno’s composition, presented in four parts all named, minimally, “Lux,” and delineated as “1,” “2,” “3” and “4,” add up to an hour-plus slow-moving soundscape of piano, loops and keyboards that oftentimes borders on the ephemeral. Information about the release is just as nominal; Lux “evolved from artwork housed in the Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy,” but doesn’t specify which pieces, or how said tunes evolved.
Brian Eno’s ambient touches can be heard in his own work as well as the numerous records he’s produced for Talking Heads, U2 and Devo. In those four decades Eno has also squeezed in a handful of works where the ambience is the album. They’re the type of records that are best experienced through a pair of headphones and paired with your substance of choice.
“[This middle ground between control and chaos] happens to be an issue with the music I make. It’s made for a place somewhere between architecture and gardening. It’s not a situation where I’m finessing every tiny detail. I basically set a process in motion and then watch it happen. A lot ….
Lux is Brian Eno's third album for the now-legendary Warp label, following his recent collaboration with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams on Small Craft on a Milk Sea in 2010 and Drums Between The Bells, last year's collaboration with poet Rick Holland. Lux sees the ambient music pioneer deviate from his recent path, bringing us a solo record that hearkens backs to his early ambient work, especially his 1978 masterpiece, Music For Airports. Consisting of one 76-minute composition in 12 sections — divided into four tracks on this release — the album grew out of an installation piece Eno recently worked on for the gallery of the Palace of Venaria in northern Italy.
Brian Eno’s first solo effort in seven years, Lux returns to one of the comfortable safety zones of the musician’s late period, sprinkling tinkling piano onto a gentle sea of ambient noise. Refined and brittle to a fault, it’s also marvelously hushed background music bearing none of the marks of aggressive experimentation that Eno brought to his recent collaborative projects, settling for an unobtrusive murmur that suggests a cross between Satie and Sigur Rós. This may have something to do with the fact that Lux was created on commission from Turin’s Palace of Venaria art gallery, intended as mood music for art enthusiasts.
One of the side-effects of digital innovation has been that, with every passing hit, pop music has become ever more busy and over-saturated. It's in this context that synthetic innovator Brian Eno's latest album conveys its calm grandeur best. Since inventing the ambient genre with 1975's Discreet Music, Eno's influence has gradually bloomed, much as a note in one of his sound paintings might.
Brian Eno's first solo album since 2005 is a 75-minute wash of keyboards and strings nominally divided into four parts, though it's so seamlessly soothing that it's a struggle to distinguish one segment from the next. It grew out of a sound installation he made for a gallery in Turin, and, aptly, is the kind of contemplative sound-cloud that could be titled Music for Galleries. In fact, Lux owes something to his Music for Airports; it similarly glides along, rarely demanding your attention, until a splash of trumpet, three seconds of mandolin or a sudden guitar chord interrupts the tranquillity.
As a composer, Brian Eno typically utilizes incredibly specific details in the writing and intentions of his music. When he’s not detailing where and how you can listen to his music, he’s creating compositions for particular formats like developing “video albums” and was perhaps the first to write music for the CD format. He defines the genre and setting of his compositions in the very title of some releases, letting you know that not only is the album Ambient, but also specifically ambient music For Airports.
Ambient music isn't supposed to be exciting, but it was hard not to look forward to Brian Eno's new mood music album, Lux. Eno is one of the most influential pop producers ever, and also the inventor of the ambient genre, so this should have been much more interesting than it is. You can argue that this kind of thing is supposed to be boring, but does it have to be so cheesy, too? Had this been released 30 years ago, it would be harder to dismiss.
On his third offering for Warp, Brian Eno returns to ambient music once again. He displayed it on his label debut, 2010's Small Craft on a Milk Sea, but the various pieces on it were either rejects from The Lovely Bones soundtrack or developed with Leo Abrahams on the Everything That Happens Will Happen Today tour. The music on Lux is a single, 75-minute composition divided into four segments that are between 18 and 20 minutes.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA “Lotus” (RCA) Christina Aguilera is one of the most powerful singers of her generation; is a friend to raunch, and an expert at making it broadly palatable; never lets tabloids get the best of her; has made it safe for still relevant midcareer pop stars to take sabbaticals for judging reality television competitions; hasn’t had a worthy hit in quite a few years; has maybe forgotten what Christina Aguilera does well. “Lotus” is Ms. Aguilera’s fifth original studio album in English since 1999, which, in pop star longevity terms, is a slow drip.
Lux, the surrounding press and publicity tells us, finds Brian Eno returning to the themes and sounds explored on his original Ambient series in the late 70s and early 80s. This shorthand promises a slow, spare, instrumental album, but also serves as a coded “stunning return to form": here is late work from a living legend that's up there with his early classics. The truth is less slick and more colourful, but for once the eyebrow-raising pitch isn't totally disingenuous.