Brian Eno (1975)
Very fittingly titled, this record is an intentionally prefabricated new world to explore. Every layer of sound is meticulously sculpted and manipulated to interact in a specific way with every other component. It’s evocative, creative, diverse, concise, and dreamlike. But, most importantly, it was breaking radically new ground in a deceptively simple format.
Another Green World is the progenitor of ambient and new age music. The aim of ambient music is to integrate sound with its environment and the listener’s mood to achieve subconscious and physiological effects. Structurally, it places focus on minimalism and repetition, but in a less rigid and aggressive manner than punk’s verse-chorus-verse approach. In fact, the purest ambient music has no lyrics and instead relies on one or two very basic patterns. In essence, it uses instruments to create an aural painting; a setting or mood for the listener to explore as they see fit. It is a form of music that goes beyond pop to art, making tunes that could only be formed with a lot of mechanical know-how, compositional experience and persistence. It’s sound as an object, noise with a goal in mind, music with strict mathematical rules. And yet, it’s also airy, relaxed pop. Only Brian Eno could produce effortless magic from thin air by applying insanely particular conditions to sound waves.
As per Eno’s experimental bent, every sound here is so heavily processed and tweaked that it becomes difficult to tell which instrument is which, and so they blend seamlessly together into a blanket of noise. The evocative moods and atmospheres are further enhanced by their descriptive titles, and the lull is broken by four or five great pop tunes, the only ones here with lyrics. This and Before And After Science are the golden mean between hyper-minimal abstraction and traditional song form. They took apart popular music at a microscopic level: limited to one core melody per song, Brian made that as dense and unique as he could. Once again, Eno was advancing the new wave and synth-pop trends he helped start in Roxy Music.
Don’t let all this vague technical talk confuse and dispirit you. Eno remains one of the warmest, most ingenious and irresistible melody writers of rock music. The reasons this record is important and influential are what I just described. The reasons why you’ll enjoy and appreciate it will become apparent once you listen.
Key track: “Golden Hours”
See also: Before And After Science – Brian Eno (1977), Ambient 1: Music For Airports – Brian Eno (1978)