Friday, January 27, 2012

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)

I discovered ambient music two years ago, during a very rough winter in which I needed time to think. I was in a difficult part of my life, being a new father, and needed to question a lot of things I was taking for granted in my life. No music is better when it's snowing outside than this slow, meditative music to take the time to relax. And I started listening to ambient with the most logical album to start with, Music for Airports by Brian Eno.

It didn't take a lot of time before I bought dozens of ambient music albums. And I'm now really addicted to this kind of music.

Brian Eno composed this album while he was waiting for his plane at the Köln-Bonn airport. The idea was to create background music that was discreet and relaxing to alleviate the tense atmosphere of a typical airport. Le first track (1/1) is by far the best of this album. It's a simple melody at the piano reminding of the early experiments of american minimalist composers (See John Cage — In a Landscape). I think the other tracks on this album are also interesting but the synth sound feels a little outdated.

This album was the first to use the word "ambient" to describe music. So it's a very good introduction to the genre. It's also the first of 4 albums by Eno and friends (Ambient 1: Music for AirportsAmbient 2: The Plateaux of MirrorAmbient 3: Day of Radiance et Ambient 4: On Land).

I'm often listening to Music for Airports at the end of the day, to relax, and my 3 years old daughter is now asking me to "put the green CD" before sleep. Yes, this albums may sound new-agey at times. But it is also a classic of the genre. If you like this album I strongly recommend you have a look at Music for Airports by the New York musical ensemble Bang on a Can. It's a remake of the 1978 album that dosen't sound as outdated.


  1. Have you ever heard Bang On A Can's version of Music for Airports? They took the Eno album and scored it for various instruments. It's quite beautiful!

  2. I definitely prefer the version by Bang on a Can.

    1. I'll always be partial to the original, but love them both!

      As for sounding "new agey", this album came along way before that label was created. It was quite experimental at the time, both in sound and technique (working with tape loops).