Roger and Brian Eno
The brothers have worked together over the years but this is their first full album as a duo. Both have worked extensively in ambient, even easy listening spaces – older brother Brian is better known of course but Roger has been prolific in recent years particularly; the best of his work is poignant, gossamer piano chord voicings that shimmer and hold brittle.
Brian Eno returns to ambient music now as his default – a resting place between producing projects, not more punk-ish singer/songwriter material it seems. Only lush blankets of sound. Sometimes it’s barely there. He likes to start with something and reduce it down to very nearly nothing. So this collaboration is so perfect as to have only taken 15 years of on-and-offing between the two. That, too, seems perfect then.
Younger brother Roger would, for the most part, submit his soft, slow, gorgeous piano-based ideas for Brian to arrange and produce, to stretch and augment, to layer in electronics, to hold, suspend and loop.
In that sense it’s very similar to work Eno Senior has carried out using Harmonia and Harold Budd as his collaborators – even the Robert Fripp duo work was carried out in much the same way technically, if with different results.
Where Brian has made a career out of famously telling everyone that his most studiously a Non Musician working in the conceptual space it is not just wagging to suggest that Roger is so studiously a musician (multi-instrumentalist, even) as to be a Non Conceptualist working in the ambient spaces within regular songs.
It all makes for a perfect and welcome collaboration. And Mixing Colours – released early in 2020 – found its place on my stereo, its music draping itself around the walls in the rooms of my house almost immediately. It didn’t know there was unease in the world when it was birthed but it’s come to be one of the finest soundtracks for the pandemic world.
You can absolutely listen to these pieces with one ear towards one particular brother’s contribution, if you so wish. Album opener, Spring Frost, feels like many of Brian’s 00s/10s ambient excursions for example. But the strong piano flavour that seeps through the pieces, particularly as the album moves through its journey (Wintergreen) more than equally links it to Roger’s recent solo works.
My favourite element is the subtle, soft, churchy-gospel feel to tracks like Obsidian. Funereal but warm.
This perfect combination of Brian and Roger’s talents is like the musical equivalent of a scented candle. A room spray doing its best to take the panic of the day far away.
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