This is the last recording in Brian Eno’s seminal Ambient series, and after 20 years, it still sounds beautiful and disturbing.
Brian Eno originated the modern idea of ambient music. In his series of 4 ambient albums, Eno established the modern idea of a shifting audio environment, free of the constraints of melodies or song structures. His ambient work is not as immediately listenable as that of others, but it has a complexity and depth that supports close listening, as well as background listening.
Ambient 4 – On Land is a test of people’s appreciation for the ambient genre. This is far away from many people’s ideas of ambient music. There’s nothing “new age” about this music.
The cuts on this album are full of sounds and textures that are a little scary. Rumbly synths sound like thunder, or the wind blowing over an open bottle. Throughout the album, it’s rare to hear recognizable instruments. The music is made up of blurps, beeps and textures instead.
Each cut is a soundscape that changes without evolving. By listening, you get a deeper feeling for the type of sound environment that you’re in, but the environment is still static. It’s almost like listening to the sounds of insects and animals in the woods, or in the desert, except that Eno’s environments are otherworldly.
The soundscapes on this album are a little off-putting. This is the type of album that could clear a party. But if it did clear a party, at least the people left would be interesting…
On Land captures one facet of Eno’s unique voice, and is a classic of 20th century music.