<-- Google Analytics START --> <-- Google Analytics END -->

john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, December 05, 2002
    On Eno
      I am:
      a mammal
      a father
      a European
      a heterosexual
      an artist
      a son
      an inventor
      an Anglo-Saxon
      an uncle
      a celebrity
      a masturbator
      a cook
      a gardener
      a husband
      a musician
      a company director
      an employer
      a teacher
      a wine-lover
      a cyclist
      a non-driver
      a pragmatist
      a producer
      a writer
      a computer user
      a Caucasian
      an interviewee
      a grumbler
      a 'drifting clarifier'
    Thats how Brian Eno describes himself in his 1995 diary, A Year with Swollen Appendices. It's one of the best books on music and creativity I've ever read.

    Late last night there was a good little documentary about Eno, which I've just watched. In it, others try to describe Eno: "One of the most important voices in Britain," says Bono, for example.

    Stopping to think about just how influential Eno has been over the past twenty-five years or more, would be a whole evening's pursuit. He made Roxy Music something more than their 'ordinary' glam-rock peers: "My contribution was to do with threading in some of the stranger sonic and conceptual experiments that were going on in experimental music, trying to make those part of what could be done."

    He collaborated with David Bowie, David Byrne, Robert Fripp, and classical and experimental composers. And most famously he dragged U2 away from a career recycling thumping stadium classics into unforseen arenas of sonic adventure.

    The programme also underlined how massively influential Eno has been on the emerging ambient scene: after all, he was one of the 'inventors' of ambient and continues to inspire its practitioners today: "It's not just music," says Sally Rogers of Ibizan house celebrities A Man Called Adam, "it's - every sound is music". And Mixmaster Morris credits Eno with making it possible for the studio engineer to become the 'star', one of the first to pioneer putting them on stage, "the studio boffin in public". And he's done all this quite quietly, willing to be in the background. Rather like his music.

    I know that my music collection would be pitiful without Eno's contributions. Which makes one thing surprising to me. All week I've been listening to the newly-released Adventures: The Wire 20 1982-2002. It's a 3-cd collection of some of the landmark 'experimental' music of the past twenty years. But I don't think Eno's featured at all. Perhaps that's because he's too mainstream for The Wire, whose David Toop said in the documentary, "Eno had a different idea about how to take this music to bigger audiences". Maybe they completely overlooked him by mistake, simply because he's so ubiquitous. Everywhere and nowhere. Seems to sum him up quite well.