Brian Eno has never not been busy – but he was extremely busy in the 1990s. His big gig was with U2 of course (in terms of recognition), and he was moving towards producing other acts again as well as plenty of collaborations, installations and commissioned pieces. He wrote prose and he released a series of albums that tapped back into his early ambient music, perhaps reminding the dance-music crowd that while they were busy calling Aphex Twin and The Orb ambient that – actually – it was Eno who invented that type of music. And in accordance with the Eno-variety of ambient music, the truly ambient, music that is as much not there as it is ever really there the albums he made in the early/mid 90s are mostly beat-less and as likely to be played at a party as a copy of Schindler’s List.
The 90s albums by Eno have been reissued, each paired with a bonus disc – an unreleased “extra” project that is, in most cases, related. A continuation.
My pick, at this stage, is Neroli, an album I never really knew at the time (I was so happy with The Shutov Assembly I just kept playing that). Where Shutov is tranquil and underwater-like, but with some shifts, given that it’s been cut up into “song” lengths, Neroli is one large piece. And it heads up out of the water and into the skies. This is dream-music, calming, an amber-haze of bubble-bath as sound. It’s been the track/album that’s guided me to sleep across the last month or so. It’s also been wake-up music, Sunday afternoon-nap music, in fact it’s been played at any and all stages of the day – much as you might light incense or a tea-light under oil-burner blend.
Neroli has been paired here with New Space Music which is a little more of a drone and less calming, though never quite jarring. Neroli’s 58 minutes is a nice continuation of the ideas extrapolated on Discreet Music, it’s essentially ja series of single melodies, very soft, vague variations. It’s Eno relishing his “non-musician” role.