Ambient 1: Music for Airports

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Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Studio album by Brian Eno
Released 1978
Recorded London/Cologne, 1978
Genre Ambient
Length 48:32
Label EG, Polydor, Virgin, GRT
Producer Brian Eno
Brian Eno chronology
Before and After Science
(1977)
Ambient 1: Music for Airports
(1978)
Music for Films
(1978)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B[2]
Pitchfork Media 9.2/10[3]
Almost Cool 8.25/10[4]
PopMatters positive[5]
Mojo 4/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[7]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[8]
eMusic 5/5 stars[9]
Spin 4/10 stars[10]

Ambient 1: Music for Airports is the sixth studio album by Brian Eno. It was released by Polydor Records in 1978. The album consists of four compositions created by layering tape loops of differing lengths. It was the first of four albums released in Eno's "Ambient" series, a term which he coined to differentiate his experimental and minimalistic approach to composition from "the products of the various purveyors of canned music".[11] Though it is not the earliest entry in the genre, it was the first album ever to be explicitly created under the label "ambient music."

Overview[edit]

Eno had previously created similarly quiet, unobtrusive music on albums such as Another Green World, Evening Star, Discreet Music, Music for Films and Harold Budd's The Pavilion of Dreams (which he produced), but this was the first album to give it precedence as a cohesive concept.

The music was designed to be continuously looped as a sound installation, with the intent of diffusing the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal. To achieve this, Eno sought to create music "as ignorable as it is interesting."[11] Rather than brightening the atmosphere as typical background music does, Music for Airports is "intended to induce calm and a space to think."[11] Eno conceived this idea while spending several hours waiting at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in the mid-1970s and being annoyed by the uninspired sound atmosphere.[12]

It was installed at the Marine Air Terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport for a brief period during the 1980s.[13]

The music[edit]

All tracks were composed by Eno except "1/1", which was co-composed by Eno with former Soft Machine drummer and vocalist Robert Wyatt and with producer Rhett Davies.

Music for Airports employs the phasing of tape loops of different lengths. For example, in "1/1", a single piano melody is repeated and at different times other instruments will fade in and out to create a complex, evolving pattern as the sounds fall in and out of sync with each other.

Talking about the first piece, Eno has said:

"2/1" and "1/2" each contain four tracks of wordless vocals which loop back on themselves and constantly interact with each other in new ways. Subtle changes in timing occur, adding to the timbre of the pieces. Eno explains of the vocal-only piece:

"2/2" was performed with an ARP 2600 synthesizer.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "1/1" (Acoustic and electric piano; synthesizer.) Brian Eno, Rhett Davies, Robert Wyatt 16:30
2. "2/1" (Vocals; synthesizer.) Eno 8:20
3. "1/2" (Vocals; acoustic piano.) Eno 11:30
4. "2/2" (Synthesizer only. Lasts 9:38 in the "Working Backwards" box edition (1983) and on the CD.) Eno 6:00

The track labelling references the album's first release (1978) as an LP, and so the first track means "first track, first side", and so on.

The CD pressing adds 30 seconds of silence after every song, including one after "2/2" has completed.

The album's back cover features four abstract graphic notation images, one for each track.

Credits[edit]

Personnel
  • Brian Eno – synthesizer, electric piano
  • Christa Fast – vocals ("2/1", "1/2")
  • Christine Gomez – vocals ("2/1", "1/2")
  • Inge Zeininger – vocals ("2/1", "1/2")
  • Robert Wyatt – acoustic piano ("1/1", "1/2")
Recording
  • Brian Eno – producer, engineer
  • Dave Hutchins – engineer ("2/1", "1/2")
  • Conny Plank – engineer ("2/2"),
  • Rhett Davies – engineer ("1/1")
Design
Recording Location
  • London ("1/1", "1/2", "2/1")
  • Plank's Studio, Cologne ("2/2")

Release history[edit]

Country Label Cat. No. Media Release Date
US Polydor AMB 001 LP 1978
France Polydor 2310 647 LP 1978
Canada GRT 9167–9835 LP 1978
Italy Polydor 2310 647 LP 1978
US Editions EG EGS 201 LP 1981
UK Editions EG EGED 17 LP 1983
UK Editions EG, Virgin EEGCD 17 CD Aug 1990
US Editions EG EEGCD 17 CD Aug 1990
UK Virgin Records ENOCD 6,
7243 8 66495 2 2
CD 2004

Usage[edit]

  • Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan is a 1981, 47-minute ambient video created by Eno which uses music from both the albums Ambient 4: On Land and this album.[16] This title was later included with his Thursday Afternoon video on the Rykodisc DVD compilation 14 Video Paintings.[17]
  • Music from the album has been covered by:
    • Bang on a Can, on the album Music For Airports (Live) [18]
    • Makyo — "2/1 (Night Flight Mix)", on the double compilation CD Minimalism: More Or Less, 1998, Law & Auder (LA05CD) [19][20]
  • Arrangements of the album performed by the Bang On A Can All-Stars were made into a video filmed and edited by Frank Scheffer, entitled Music For Airports / In The Ocean[21]
  • The first track is used in the PBS special The Creation of the Universe.[22] Eno is the sole music credit, and he also wrote original music for the documentary.
  • "1/1" is frequently used as background music on the US public radio program This American Life.
  • "1/1" features prominently in the opening scene of the 2009 motion picture The Lovely Bones.[23]
  • Excerpts of Ambient 1 appear in Robert Hughes' documentary on Modern Art The Shock of the New, episode 4 Trouble in Utopia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

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

External links[edit]