Brian Eno - Lux - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Brian Eno - Lux

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2012-11-12

It's quite easy to criticise Brian Eno's ambient music: it's so easy to create these days, he pretty much lets his laptop do it for him etc etc. Well, if that's the case, how come loads of electronic chancers aren't doing the exact same thing? And how come, when another artist does do something similar, the results are just never quite as satisfying as Eno's?


Eno pretty much invented ambient music with his ground-breaking (No Pussyfooting) album with Robert Fripp back in the early 70s. He's been doing this for nigh on 40 years now, and yet no one, bar perhaps Aphex Twin with Selected Ambient Works Volume II has come close to creating music as shimmeringly, weightlessly beautiful as Eno's. Listening to his music is like watching light move, or focussing fully on the rhythms of your body: truly meditative music, with nothing else getting in the way.


You'll probably know already whether Lux is an album you'll enjoy. The critics are right that there's nothing new here, but then it's not as if music like this really ages much anyway. As on Eno's seminal 1978 album Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Lux is comprised of four long instrumental pieces which drift past the listener in a state of placid satisfaction, occasionally altering their sound and density. It's like floating through a star field in deep space.


There are no great shifts in tone between each piece, but just to give a general overview: Where 'Lux 1' feels content and calm, 'Lux 2' is tenser, with recurring, drawn-out, slightly discordant high notes. It feels like it could soundtrack the opening of a sci-fi film and, appropriately, recalls Eno's 1983 album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. As there, the music here sounds as if feelings of awe and creeping unease are alternately bubbling to the surface, with neither quite winning out.


Also reminiscent of Apollo... is 'Lux 3', which feels of a piece with '2' but sparser, using repeating clusters of piano notes which splash over long washes of synth. The result is less interesting than 'Lux 2' and probably forms the album's least rewarding track. 'Lux 4' is, if anything, even more sparse, but its warm, Satie-esque piano and mournful strings are gorgeous and emotionally moving. It's a fitting final.


The music on Lux was originally composed, in an earlier form, for installation at in Italy's Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria. However, the absence of this former context makes no difference to one's appreciation of the music; it still feels timeless and, for the most part, transcendent.

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