Warp Records – January 1, 2017
Reflection, Brian Eno’s newest ambient/generative music installment, takes the listener on a dismal yet endless journey. Reflection (excerpt) is a short sojourn into this generative experience. The release track is a recording of an ever changing system. The theory and concept of Generative music is complex but it boils down to how sounds may be “generated” by a musician “farming” parameters within an ecology. The goal is that the ecology will perpetually produce variation based on the parameters and algorithms used. It is hard to look at this piece with an objective lens because the experience shifts and changes for every individual listener at different times. However, the audible palette of this track resembles Eno’s earlier attempts at ambient or so-called “furniture” music. Soft tones intervene with each other to create shimmering textures that drift and dance to no particular time constraint. The brindled track only gains your attention when you want it to and this is entirely intentional. Eno states:
Most music chooses its own position in terms of your listening to it. Muzak wants to be back there. Punk wants to be up front. Classical wants to be another place. I wanted to make something you could slip in and out of. You could pay attention or you could choose not to be distracted by it if you wanted to do something while it was on. I can’t read with a pop record playing, or with most classical records. They’re not intended to leave that part of the mind free – my mind, anyway. Ambient music allows many different types of attention. (Source)
The cover of the album is shrouded in darkness leaving only a mysterious photo of Brian Eno. Reflection will sound different every time because there is a version of the piece for Apple TV and iOS that is accompanied with a visual component as well as a sonic version of Reflection. Many prefer the sonic identity of a piece of music to be consistent so they can refer back to it. That being said, it is an interesting concept nonetheless. In this day and age, nothing is for certain and there is always another way to hear something.
If you enjoyed this release, we recommend…
Brian Eno – Music for Airports (1978)
William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (2002)
Alva Noto – Prototypes (2000)