Ambient 4: On Land

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Ambient 4: On Land
Brian Eno On Land.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1982
RecordedSeptember 1978 – January 1982, NYC
GenreAmbient, dark ambient
ProducerBrian Eno
Brian Eno chronology
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Ambient 4: On Land
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Austin Chronicle[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[5]
The Village VoiceB+[7]

Ambient 4: On Land is the eighth solo studio album by British ambient musician Brian Eno. Released in 1982, it was the final edition in Eno's ambient series, which began in 1978 with Music for Airports.


On Land is a mixture of synthesizer-based notes, nature/animal recordings, and a complex array of other sounds, most of which were unused, collected recordings from previous albums and the sessions that created them. As Eno explained, "... the making of records such as On Land involved feeding unheard tape into the mix, constant feeding and remixing, subtracting and "composting".[8]

Eno actually found, in the three-year process of making the album, that the synthesizer came to be of "limited usefulness" and that his "instrumentation shifted gradually through electro-mechanical and acoustic instruments towards non-instruments like pieces of chain and sticks and stones ... I included not only recordings of rooks, frogs and insects, but also the complete body of my own earlier work".[9]

Eno, cognizant of the deeper aural qualities, said, "On the whole, On Land is quite a disturbed landscape: some of the undertones deliberately threaten the overtones, so you get the pastoral prettiness on top, but underneath there's a dissonance that's like an impending earthquake".[10]

Eno also had something to say about how music—this album in particular—should be listened to. In the liner notes, he suggested (even going so far as to draw a diagram) "a three-way speaker system that is both simple to install and inexpensive, and which seems to work very well on any music with a broad stereo image".

Track names[edit]

The album makes reference to definite geographical places, such as Lizard Point, the exposed, southernmost tip of mainland Britain, close to Land's End in South-West England.

"Tal Coat" refers to Pierre Louis Jacob (1905–1985), aka Pierre Tal-Coat,[11] a proponent of the French form of abstract expressionism, Tachisme. This interest in painting is reflected in Eno's statement that the album was "an attempt to transpose into music something that you can do in painting: creating a figurative environment. At the beginning of the 20th century, the ambition of the great painters was to make paintings that were like music, which was then considered as the noblest art because it was abstract, not figurative. In contrast, my intention in On Land was to make music that was like figurative painting, but without referring to the history of music – more to a "history of listening""[12]

"Lantern Marsh" was a place in East Anglia where he grew up. He remarks, "My experience of it derives not from having visited it (although I almost certainly did) but from having subsequently seen it on a map and imagining where and what it might be".[13]

"Leeks Hills", Eno explains, "is a little wood (much smaller now than when I was young, and this not merely the effect of age and memory) which stands between Woodbridge and Melton. There isn't a whole lot left of it now, but it used to be quite extensive. To find it you travel down the main road connecting Woodbridge and it lies to your left as you go down the hill".[14][15]

"Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960" is named after the once prosperous seaport of Dunwich, England, which eroded into the sea over a period of three hundred years.

Track listing[edit]

All music is composed by Brian Eno, unless otherwise noted.

Side A
1."Lizard Point"Eno, Michael Beinhorn, Axel Gros, Bill Laswell4:34
2."The Lost Day" 9:13
3."Tal Coat" 5:30
4."Shadow" 3:00
Side B
1."Lantern Marsh"5:33
2."Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)"5:23
3."A Clearing"4:09
4."Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960"7:13
Total length:44:35


  • Engineering: Andy Lyden (London), Barry Sage, Cheryl Smith, Daniel Lanois (Canada), John Potoker (NYC), Julie Last (NYC), Martin Bisi (Brooklyn), Neal Teeman (NYC)
  • The frogs on track 6 were recorded in Choloma, Honduras by Felipe Orrego.
  • Special thanks: Robert Quine, Alex Blair, Harold Budd, Laraaji and Danny Lanois "who contributed their encouragement and suggestions at the right times"
  • Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York
  • Artwork, Design & Text: Brian Eno
  • Typography: Chong-Donnie


Country Label Cat. No. Media Release Date
US Editions EG EGED 20 LP 1982
France Polydor 2311 107 LP 1982
Australia & NZ Editions EG 2311 107 LP 1982
UK Editions EG EEGCD 20 CD 1986
UK Virgin ENOCD 8
7243 8 66499 2 8
CD 2004

In popular culture[edit]

  • "Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan" is a 1981, 47-minute ambient video created by Eno which uses music from the album (cat # HEN 2134). Two time-lapse animated GIFS from the production – (133K) , (270K).
    This title was later repackaged with his Thursday Afternoon video as "14 Video Paintings", RykoDisc, (HNDVD 1508) 9 , 10.
  • The Khumba Mela (Same as it Ever Was), A 1982 90-minute video filmed in the waterways of Kashmir in India about a Saddhu's pilgrimage by Albert Falzon, features music from the album (Hendring, HEN 2135) 11, 12, 13, 14.
  • Mythological Lands – Symbols from the Magic Drum, by David Bickley, a film about Lapland (1990, 45 minutes) features music from the album 15[permanent dead link], 16, 17.
  • Ocean of Sound, a book by David Toop, has been accompanied by a 2-CD compilation including "Lizard Point" (Virgin AMBT 10; 7243 8 41367 2 7) 18, 19, 20.
  • OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music 1948–80 (Ellipsis Arts, 2000) features the track "Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills) 21.
  • Shutter Island, (2010, Paramount Pictures) a film directed by Martin Scorsese, features the track "Lizard Point" as a part of its soundtrack.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olewnick, Brian. "Ambient 4: On Land – Brian Eno". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  2. ^ Chamy, Michael (17 December 2004). "Brian Eno and Harold Budd: Gift guide". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. ^ Singer, Liam (7 October 2004). "Brian Eno / Harold Budd: Discreet Music / Ambient 1: Music for Airports / Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror / Ambient 4: On Land". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  4. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Brian Eno". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 278–279. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  5. ^ Weisbard & Marks 1995, p. 129.
  6. ^ Pinnock, Tom (January 2019). "Brian Eno: Discreet Music / Ambient 1: Music for Airports / Music for Films / Ambient 4: On Land". Uncut (260): 38.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (31 August 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Sound On Sound: A fervent nostalgia for the future - Part 2". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Ambient 4: On Land". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Spin: Man Out Of Time". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Pierre Tal-Coat (French, 1905-1985): Landscapes in pencil and drypoint". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Artpress: In the Enosphere". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  13. ^ "On Land".
  14. ^ "Tobylitt Question". Archived from the original on 21 November 2006.
  15. ^ "TobyLitt Answer". Archived from the original on 21 November 2006.

Works cited

External links[edit]