Sunday A.M. Radio: Brian Eno - The Godfather of Ambient

There is actually a law that says if you have a super chill ambient and downtempo music column and you fail to feature Brian Eno within the first eight posts, your column gets taken away. It’s an actual law. Look it up.

Brian Eno is to ambient music what The Godfather Part II is to the Godfather trilogy. He may not have been the very first one to do it, but he is the best and everything that came after him is not quite as good.

Basically, though, it’s safe to say that Brian Eno is The Godfather of ambient music. He was the one who actually defined the term “ambient music” in the liner notes of his 1978 album Music For Airports.

Over the past three years, I have become interested in the use of music as ambience, and have come to believe that it is possible to produce material that can be used thus without being in any way compromised. To create a distinction between my own experiments in this area and the products of the various purveyors of canned music, I have begun using the term Ambient Music.
An ambience is defined as an atmosphere, or a surrounding influence: a tint. My intention is to produce original pieces ostensibly (but not exclusively) for particular times and situations with a view to building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres. – Brian Eno

Elements of ambient music have been present in classical, jazz, psychedelic rock and drone pieces for years before Eno put a label on it. But, when Brian Eno began his experiments in ambient recordings, he pretty much officially created the genre.

I’ve been listening to Eno’s ambient music for a long time. I haven’t heard everything – which is great because I still have new things to hear – but what I have heard ranks among some of my favorite things to listen to.  I think I’ve come as close as I’ll ever come to levitating when meditating to Brian Eno and Robert Fripp’s Evening Star album. His song “The Big Ship” – from his 1975 album Another Green World – has been in the news lately because it’s featured in two movies that recently came out – The End of the Tour – the David Foster Wallace movie and the indie film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Even though it’s Sunday morning let’s take an hour to listen to Brian Eno’s 1985 album Thursday Afternoon – which is a single piece of music made of mutating piano loops and synth washes. You should also check out Eno’s video painting series set to the same music.

Any requests for future editions of Sunday A.M. Radio?


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Posted in Articles, Sunday A.M. Radio

Mike Andrelczyk is a features editor for Fly Magazine. He is a graduate of Penn State University and currently lives with his wife Stacey in Strasburg. Interests include tennis, playing bad guitar, poetry (poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, The Inquisitive Eater and other journals) and oneirology – the study of dreams – mostly in the form of afternoon naps. His name appears in the title screen of Major League 2.

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