Discreet Music

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Discreet Music

EG Release
Studio album by Brian Eno
Released November 1975
Genre Ambient, Classical
Length 54:07
Label EG
Brian Eno chronology
Another Green World
(1975)
Discreet Music
(1975)
Before and After Science
(1977)
Alternative cover
Virgin Release

Discreet Music (1975) is an album by the British ambient musician Brian Eno. While his earlier work with Robert Fripp on No Pussyfooting and several selections from Another Green World feature similar ideas, Discreet Music marked a clear step toward the ambient aesthetic Eno would later codify with 1978's Ambient 1: Music for Airports. It is also Eno's first album to be released under his full name "Brian Eno," as opposed to his previous rock albums released simply under the name "Eno."

Background and recording[edit]

Brian Eno's concept of ambient music builds upon a concept composer Erik Satie called "furniture music."[1] This means music that is intended to blend into the ambient atmosphere of the room rather than be directly focused upon.

The inspiration for this album began when Eno was left bed-ridden in a hospital by an automobile accident and was given an album of eighteenth-century harp music.[2] After struggling to put the record on the turntable and returning to bed, he realised that the volume was turned down (toward the threshold of inaudibility) but he lacked the strength to get up from the bed again and turn it up. Eno said this experience taught him a new way to perceive music:

"This presented what was for me a new way of hearing music—as part of the ambience of the environment just as the color of the light and the sound of the rain were parts of that ambience."

This album is also an experiment in algorithmic, generative composition. His intention was to explore multiple ways to create music with limited planning or intervention.

The A-side of the album is a thirty minute piece titled "Discreet Music." It was originally intended as a background for Robert Fripp to play against in a series of concerts. The liner notes contain a diagram of how this piece was created. It begins with two melodic phrases of different lengths played back from a Synthesizer's digital recall system (the equipment used in this case was an EMS Synthi AKS, which had a then-exotic, built-in digital sequencer). This signal is then run through a graphic equaliser to occasionally change its timbre. It is then run through an echo unit before being recorded onto a tape machine. The tape runs to the take-up reel of a second machine. The output of that machine is fed back into the first tape machine which records the overlapped signals.

The second half of the album is three pieces collectively titled "Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel." These pieces were performed by the Cockpit Ensemble, conducted and co-arranged by Gavin Bryars. The members of the ensemble were each given brief excerpts from the score, which were repeated several times, along with instructions to gradually alter the tempo and other elements of the composition.[citation needed] The titles of these pieces were derived from inaccurate French-to-English translations of the liner notes of a version of Pachelbel's Canon performed by the orchestra of Jean Francois Paillard.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Brian Eno & Johann Pachelbel except where noted

Side one[edit]

  1. "Discreet Music" (Brian Eno) – 30:35

Side two[edit]

Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel

  1. "Fullness of Wind" – 9:57
  2. "French Catalogues" – 5:18
  3. "Brutal Ardour" – 8:17

Personnel[edit]

  • Brian Eno – synthesizer, keyboards, producer, photography
  • Gavin Bryars – arranger, conductor
  • The Cockpit Ensemble
  • Simon Heyworth – mastering
  • Peter Kelsey – engineer
  • Andrew Day – redesign

Release[edit]

This album was also released on the Virgin label. On this reissue, a full minute of silence separates Discreet Music's title track from the Pachelbel piece.

Critical response and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau A−[4]
Pitchfork Media 8.8/10[5]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[6]
Mojo 4/5 stars[7]
Spin 7/10 stars[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Weisbard, Eric; Craig Marks (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 

External links[edit]