Tom Robinson : top 10 favourite albums : number 5 : 1982 BRIAN ENO – On Land

Eno’s not only one of the most original thinkers in (and about) music, but he has the distinction of having pioneered an entire genre of his own. If you think about it, there aren’t many individuals about whom you could say that. Confined to bed in a plaster cast after a road accident, he came up with the concept of Ambient music in the form of a creatively composed sonic soundscape – as opposed to the annoying muzak of lifts and shopping malls. For my money, On Land (the fourth in his Ambient series of albums) is where this impulse found its finest expression. Today of course, “ambient” music is a lazy cliché denoting any kind of aimless laptop noodling without lyrics – the world is awash with the stuff. But in 1982 when this album came out nobody had ever heard of it: the record itself was released on the Editions EG label and it took a bit of tracking down. But what a refreshing change it proved to be once you got it on the turntable. Music without ego: music that was designed to be heard rather than listened to. Music as immersive enviroment rather than insistent attention-grabber. I still don’t quite know how he composed and recorded this – there are musical notes in there, played by mostly unidentifiable instruments, though mostly the sounds are organic, with a minimum of electronics. No calls, no bars, and a structure that includes you as soon as you try to grab hold of it. I’ve never tired of this album, and never will.

For number 6 in Tom Robinson’s top 10 favourite albums please go here

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