Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Eno 24: Reflection

We’ve mentioned that many of Eno’s ambient albums are so complex that they sound different on each listening. That’s tough to do with physical media, as once something is mastered it’s set in stone, for lack of a better metaphor. As many of his ambient works are designed to accompany whatever environment he’s created, he’s always longed for something that could change naturally.
He kinda does that with Reflection, but not if you buy the CD. A $40 app from the Apple Store was designed to be completely generative, with the sound adapting to time of day and even the season of the year. Even the streaming version, which had to stick with one program, was updated from time to time; as of this writing there are four “single” versions on Spotify of varying lengths.
At any rate, the CD consists of a single 54-minute track, and has not changed since first play, at least as far as we can tell. (Thursday Afternoon was also a one-track album, but more happens here.) It begins quietly, suggesting a dark landscape like On Land, but soon finds a setting more like The Ship, only without voice. The tones, similar to bass electric piano notes and sometimes vibes as heard on Music For Airports, reverberate seemingly without end, until a distant high-pitched sound seems to appear from across whatever water we’re looking at around 18 minutes in. A variation sounds about four minutes later, bringing a major-chord change that resounds, then recedes. About a half hour in there’s actually a two-chord sequence; ten minutes after that some multi-note figures appear, and what we used to call space sounds. Eventually the program fades on what we used to call a loop, and then it’s gone.
We will admit to putting on Reflection specifically for falling asleep, so it does take some effort to experience the entire program. It’s easy to ignore, but rewarding when you don’t.

Brian Eno Reflection (2017)—3

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