All compositions by Brian Eno except
Lizard point by Eno, Beinhorn,Gros and Laswell
All Songs, Except 1,4,8:
Brian Eno All Instruments,Treatments
1:Brian Eno Synthesizers,Treatments,Etc.
Michael Beinhorn Synthesizer
Axel Gros Guitar
Bill Laswell Bass Guitar
4:Brian Eno Synthesizers,Treatments,Etc.
Jon Hassell Trumpet
8:Brian Eno Synthesizers,Treatments,Etc.
Michael Brook Guitar
Daniel Lanois Live Equalization
AN AMBIENT SPEAKER SYSTEM
I regard this music as environmental: to be experienced from the inside. Accordingly I
considered releasing a quadrophonic version of it, an idea I abandoned upon realising
that very few people (myself included) own quadrophonic systems.
However, I have for many years been using a three-way speaker system that is both simple
to install and inexpensive, and which seems to work very well on any music with a broad
stereo image. The effect is subtle but definite - it opens out the music and seems to
enlarge the room acoustically.
In addition to a normal stereo hifi system all that is required is one extra loudspeaker
and some speaker cable. The usage of this speaker in the three-way system is such that
it will not be required to handle very low frequencies: therefore a small or "mini"
speaker will be adequate.
As shown in the diagram, the two terminals of the new speaker are connected to the two
positive (red) speaker connectors on the amplifier. This speaker is located somewhere
behind the listener - at the apex of a triangle whose base is formed by the original
loudspeaker set-up. One of the unexpected benefits of this system is an increase in the
usable listening area - almost any point in the room will yield good (although not
necessarily "accurate") stereo sound.
I arrived at this system by accident, and I don't really know why it works. What seems
to happen is that the third speaker reproduces any sound that is not common to both
sides of the stereo - i.e., everything that is not located centrally in the stereo
image - and I assume that this is because the common information is put out of phase
with itself and cancels out.
More technically, the lower the impedance of the added speaker, the louder it will sound.
If it is found to be too loud (although this rarely seems to happen), you can either
insert a potentiometer (6-12 ohms, at least 10 watts) into the circuit, or move the
speaker further away.
© Brian Eno 1992
The idea of making music that in some way related to a sense of place - landscape,
environment - had occurred to me many times over the years preceding "On Land".
Each time, however, I relegated it to a mental shelf because it hadn't risen above
being just another idea - a diagram rather than a living and breathing music. In
retrospect, I now see the influence of this idea, and the many covert attempts to
realise it, running through most of the work that I've released like an unacknowledged
but central theme. This often happens; you imagine a territory rich in possibilities and
try to think of how you might get to it, and then suddenly one day you look around and
realise that you have been there for quite a long time.
My conscious exploration of this way of thinking about music probably began with
"Another Green World" (1975). On that record I became aware of setting each place
within its own particular landscape and allowing the mood of that landscape to
determine the kinds of activity that could occur. Working from the realisation that my
music was less and less connected with performability but was created in and of the
studio, I took advantage of the fact that music produced in recording studios (rather
than music reproduced by studios) has the option of creating its own psychoacoustic
space. Most frequently this has been achieved by mechanical or electronic echoes and
delays: short repeat echoes connoting rectilinear urban spaces, for example, and until
recently, these possibilities have been used "realistically" to evoke spaces that were
recognizable. From "Another Green World" onwards I became interested in exaggerating and
inventing rather than replicating spaces, experimenting in particular with various
techniques of time distortion. This record represents one culmination of that
development and in it the landscape has ceased to be a backdrop for something else to
happen in front of; instead, everything that happens is a part of the landscape. There
is no longer a sharp distinction between foreground and background.
In using the term landscape I am thinking of places, times, climates and the moods that
they evoke. And of expanded moments of memory too... One of the inspirations for this
record was Fellini's "Amarcord" ("I Remember"), a presumably unfaithful reconstruction
of childhood moments. Watching that film, I imagined an aural counterpart to it, and t
hat became one of the threads woven into the fabric of the music.
What qualified a piece for inclusion on the record was that it took me somewhere, but
this might be somewhere that I'd never been before, or somewhere I'd only imagined going
to. Lantern Marsh, for example, is a place only a few miles from where I grew up in East
Anglia, but my experience of it derives not from having visited it (although I almost
certainly did) but from having subsequently seen it on a map and imagining where and
what it might be. We feel affinities not only with the past, but also with the futures
that didn't materialize, and with the other variations of the present that we suspect
run parallel to the one we have agreed to live in.
The choice of sonic elements in these places arose less from listening to music than
from listening to the world in a musical way. When I was in Ghana, for instance, I took
with me a stereo microphone and a cassette recorder, ostensibly to record indigenous
music and speech patterns. What I sometimes found myself doing instead was sitting out
on the patio in the evenings with the microphone placed to pick up the widest possible
catchment of ambient sounds from all directions, and listening to the result on my
headphones. The effect of this simple technological system was to cluster all the
disparate sounds into one aural frame; they became music.
Listening this way, I realised I had been moving towards a music that had this feeling;
as the listener, I wanted to be situated inside a large field of loosely-knit sound,
rather than placed before a tightly organised monolith (or stereolith, for that matter).
I wanted to open out the aural field, to put much of the sound a considerable distance
from the listener (even locating some of it "out of earshot"), and to allow the sounds
to live their lives separately from one another, clustering occasionally but not
"musically" bound together. This gave rise to an interesting technical difficulty.
Because recording studio technology and practice developed in relation to performed
music, the trend of that development has been towards greater proximity, tighter and
more coherent meshing of sounds with one another. Shortly after I returned from Ghana,
Robert Quine gave me a copy of Miles Davis' "He Loved Him Madly". Teo Macero's
revolutionary production on that piece seemed to me to have the "spacious" quality I was
after, and like "Amarcord", it too became a touchstone to which I returned frequently.
As I made these pieces, I began to take a different attitude towards both the materials
and the procedures I was using. I found the synthesizer, for example, of limited
usefulness because its sound tended towards a diagrammatic rather than an organic
quality. My instrumentation shifted gradually through electro-mechanical and acoustic
instruments towards non-instruments like pieces of chain and sticks and stones. Coupled
with this transition was an increasing interest in found sound as a completely plastic
and malleable material; I never felt any sense of obligation about realism. In this
category I included not only recordings of rooks, frogs and insects, but also the
complete body of my own earlier work. As a result, some earlier pieces I worked on
became digested by later ones, which in turn became digested again. The technique is
like composting: converting what would otherwise have been waste into nourishment.
1982, revised February 1986