|No. of Discs:||2|
2012 ambient music album composed by Brian Eno!
Double LP release for Warp Records!
LUX, Brian Eno's 2012 ambient music solo album, is a 75-minute piece in 12 parts and was itself inspired by the play of light through the window of his studio.
In 1985, Eno released a CD called Thursday Afternoon. The hourlong work was the soundtrack to a video piece, a project notable for two uses of technology. One, the video was meant to be viewed on a television placed on its side (there's a YouTube rip out there that requires you to rotate your laptop). And with its 61-minute runtime, Thursday Afternoon was promoted as the first piece to be created specifically for compact disc. Before the arrival of the CD a couple of years before, works of such duration had to be spread across sides. And since Thursday Afternoon was an immersive ambient piece in the classic Eno mold, the idea that you could absorb it uninterrupted in one hour-long session was important.
Thursday Afternoon seemed to drift in place; it was music that seemed not so much "played" as "allowed to exist." Its structure brought to mind wind chimes, as a handful of individually pleasing elements-- a few notes of piano, some light synth treatments-- knocked around the space arbitrarily but seemed to benefit from the lack of order. Eno's first true ambient work, Discreet Music, from 1975, was his first example of the form; there, he generated a handful of electronic synth tones and allowed them to cycle through chance patterns (the title track from that album also pushed the limits of technology, with over 30 minutes of audio on a single LP side). And now, Eno's new solo album, first created for an art installation, is another. Lux consists of four tracks spread across 75 minutes, but you don't really know where one ends and another begins and it doesn't matter. Lux is clear and bright, with the crisp higher harmonics allowed to come through.
Lux has a mix of space and sound that feels right; no one element dominates or becomes grating over the course of 75 minutes, even though all repeat over and over. Piano notes linger, there are light plucks on what could be a harp, and everything is bathed in Deep Listening-levels of reverb. While it accomplishes Eno's long-stated goal of changing the mood and feel of a room, "tinting" the atmosphere, it refuses to enforce any feeling in particular.
Lux is squarely in the tradition of music that can be ignored but holds up (sometimes just barely) to closer scrutiny. It turns any living room into an art installation where interesting things may or may not happen, and its lack of direction and specificity is in its own way brave. Sometimes it's hard to not say anything; Brian Eno is doing just that, once again, and beautifully.