Brian Eno has been successful in many fields. As a visual artist, his work has been displayed around the world. As a musician and composer, he created some of the most innovative pop songs of the seventies, and helped define a new style of music, ambient. Finally, it would be difficult to escape his work as a producer. He has produced top records for bands like Devo, David Bowie, Talking Heads and U2.
Eno was born Brian Peter George St. Baptiste de la Salle Eno in England. As a child, he was fascinated with recordings of American pop, because he felt that they seemed mysterious and without a context. He studied art in Ipswich and Winchester, where he learned about avant garde composers such as Cornelius Cardew and, especially, John Cage. Eno participated in performances of avant garde works, and became interested in systems of generating music and art. In 1968, he self-published a book titled Music for Non-Musicians, exploring a theme that has carried through his career.
After he graduated, he joined Roxy Music, as a technician. He contributed signifantly to their early sound, but his flamboyant image (he cross-dressed) and theorizing put him at odds with leader Bryan Ferry.
This was the beginning of Eno’s explosion of creative work in the seventies. In 1973, he collaborated with Robert Fripp on the album No Pussyfooting. The album features Eno’s tape-loop treatment of Fripp’s guitar improvisations. The result holds up very well as a precusor to the ambient music that followed. He also released a string of LP’s that showcased his quirky approach to pop music, including Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, and Before and After Science. These albums are exciting and frustrating, innovative and strange, and have been tremendously influential.
His interest in more mellow sounds continued, with more albums with Robert Fripp, and his Discreet Music, which some consider the first ambient music. His ideas about this type of music came together with Ambient 1: Music for Airports.
He founded Obscure Records, and released several albums by experimental musicians. Eno also began handling production for many significant pop musicians. He worked with David Bowie on some of his best albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger. At the end of the seventies, and in the early eighties, Eno continued to produce, working with Ultravox, Devo, Talking Heads, and U2. His work with David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was some of the first pop music to explore found samples and the idea of “world” music.
More recently, Eno has worked extensively in the area of video installation, and has applied the same ideas he explores in his ambient music to video. His more more recent ambient music is extremely minimal, which makes it very functional, but maddening to listeners looking for traditional “musical” signposts.
Eric Tamm has written an excellent book on Eno and his work.
- 1973 No Pussyfooting (with Robert Fripp)
- 1974 Here Come The Warm Jets
- 1974 Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
- 1975 Evening Star (with Robert Fripp)
- 1975 Another Green World
- 1975 Discreet Music
- 1977 Cluster & Eno (with Cluster
- 1978 Before and After Science
- 1978 Ambient #1 / Music for Airports
- 1978 Music for Films
- 1978 After the Heat (with Roedelius and Dieter Moebius)
- 1980 Ambient #2 / The Plateaux of Mirror (with Harold Budd)
- 1980 Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics (with Jon Hassell)
- 1981 Ambient #3 / Day of Radiance (by Laraaji with Eno producing)
- 1981 My Life In The Bush of Ghosts (with David Byrne)
- 1982 Ambient #4 / On Land
- 1983 Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
- 1984 Begegnungen
- 1984 The Pearl (with Harold Budd)
- 1985 Thursday Afternoon
- 1985 Hybrid (with Daniel Lanois and Michael Brook)
- 1985 Begegnungen II (with Roedelius and Dieter Moebius)
- 1989 Textures
- 1990 The Shutov Assembly
- 1990 Wrong Way Up (with John Cale)
- 1992 Nerve Net
- 1993 Neroli
- 1995 Spinner (with Jah Wobble)
- 1997 The Drop
- 2001 Drawn From Life (with Peter Schwalm)
- 2003 January 07003 | Bell Studies for The Clock of The Long Now