http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/ca3cde70b7261eea8a7a10073b198d201912c49b.jpg Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Brian Eno

Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
July 26, 1979

Brian Eno carefully distinguishes his art music, which is also his pop music, from his gebrauchsmusik, or utilitarian undertakings. Ambient 1 Music for Airports is as utilitarian as they come: it's conceived as background sound for airport lobbies, hopefully to replace the usual piped-in saccharine strings and smooth MOR frosting.

As aesthetic white noise, Ambient 1 Music for Airports makes for even more dissipated listening than last year's similarly unfocused Music for Films. Film scores, accompanying the unraveling of a screenplay, still relate to some sort of time frame, but the new material — having already abandoned conventional notions of melody, harmony, rhythm and personality — strives to dispense with even that. As environmental sound, it works quite well, better than the earlier Discreet Music, which it superficially resembles.

Moreover, there's a good deal of high craftsmanship here, but to find it, you've got to thwart the music's intent by concentrating. The first of four untitled pieces is assembled from a childlike, Robert Wyatt piano phrase. Eno adds sparse accents on bass and bells, makes a tape loop, then pinpoints different facets of the loop with his synthesizer. This procedure proves easier to see (on the musical score, reproduced on the back of the record jacket) than to hear: there are several partial repetitions to contend with, as well as the overall miasma of inattention.

Other "songs" are simpler in concept. Several repeating tones or patterns of different lengths drift in and out of phase. In theory, none of these pieces end: the loop'can continue, with eternal variation, as long as the airport is standing. But whether or not they ever play this stuff over the loudspeakers at La Guardia, Brian Eno has succeeded once again in provoking his fans.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »