Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land

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.

4 thoughts on “Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land

  1. I love Eno, but his ambient music doesn’t do a lot for me. It’s like listening to John Cage: “Ok, that’s an interesting idea, now let’s listen to something else.”

    I prefer his work with Roxy Music, his solo albums of the 70s, his Bowie trilogy (especially Heroes), Talking Heads and especially Phil Manzanera / 801.

    Brian Eno is hardly a household name, but he has had an enormous influence on all kinds of music. He is the Willie Dixon of our generation.

  2. Hitman –

    Saying you like Eno except for his ambient music is a bit like saying you like jazz until they just start making stuff up – but some of that older stuff is great, too.

  3. I understand what Hittman is saying. I like some of his ambient works, but not all of it. He’s a great musician in that he tries various styles, re-invents himself almost all the time, etc., but that just means you end up not liking everything he may do.

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