Brian Eno - Song by Song (& Album by Album) Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by HitAndRun, Oct 31, 2021.

  1. William Gladstone

    William Gladstone I was a teenage daydreamer.

    Location:
    Panama City, FL
    Mamouna - At the height of my Roxy Music obsession, I stopped picking up Bryan Ferry solo albums with 1978's The Bride Stripped Bare. I do enjoy/appreciate the reconvened Roxy's "slick" comeback, and I felt it was a logical move for Ferry as he entered his 30s, as this was a style he could continue with indefinitely, a sultry crooner, as opposed to trying to be a sexy glam rocker in his 50s, etc. All of that aside, the few songs I had heard from his 80s solo work, in particular Slave to Love, was just glossy, contrived, end credits fodder that at the time, still in my 20s, I had no use for. It hasn't been until more recent years, starting to fully appreciate bands like Prefab Sprout, Spandau Ballet, and Sade, that I began exploring more "sophisti-pop" outings like Bete Noire, etc.

    With that said, I had never gotten around to Mamouna until today. Overall, this album is "really good" in the sense that the songs are very well put together with, as @brew ziggins pointed out, some great instrumental interplay, particularly those single note guitar runs and the lush keys. Plus, Ferry sounds great. To the former, it's a great mood setter, and completely pleasant to listen to as background during a party/conversation or driving late at night with other things on your mind, as it does not demand or distract in any way. But that's not what it's intended for, so that rather makes it a fail. And the only reason the instrumental interplay pops out is because I'm taking the time to actually give these songs a proper listen in the first place. What that means is that this an album that doesn't beg to be listened to but is listened to more out of obligation if one is a big Bryan Ferry fan...and the outcome isn't unpleasant, just unmemorable. As @Jamsterdammer said, dressing up a turd is still a turd...and while I won't go quite that for, there's certainly very little that makes me want to play this again as opposed to anything Roxy Music or his first two solo albums.

    As for Eno's part in this...I can't say I hear it. Even in the song with the writing credit. He's not doing anything innovative or special, he's not even doing his Eno thing, he's just a member of the band. I'm sure it was great fun, and a paycheck, but that's it.
     
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  2. Hightops

    Hightops Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bay Area, Ca
    Thanks for confirming what I suspected...that I'm not missing much.
     
  3. Amnion

    Amnion Forum Occupant

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Worth a listen though... It's not a "turd".. especially considering some of the Eno "albums" covered recently. This period of "installations" etc. are probably fine if you were actually able to take in the experiences, but to me they're mostly a money-grabbing dead bore. Oops, a bit cranky today :winkgrin:
     
  4. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    I doubt sales numbers of those albums were such that Eno might have been lucky to receive any income from that. He probably got more from the organizers of the installations. Personally I think it's nice this music is being made available to a wider audience, even though only a very small number of people are in to it. Just look at how the number of participants in this thread has dropped off.
     
  5. Amnion

    Amnion Forum Occupant

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The drop-off was expected I think, I follow, haven't participated much, other than "likes'. Money-grabbing was a bit too far I admit, why not monetize? But box sets of installation music? Not for me.
     
  6. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Mamouna

    I think that there's not a lot to say about this album. I do like smooth Bryan Ferry including the smooth latter Roxy Music albums.

    But, the problem with this album is that everything is polished so much that it all becomes a bit samey.

    Doing a track by track description of the album would be difficult. But, less of a joke than it may appear, Just take the following and repeat it multiple times replacing SONG NAME with each song name in turn.

    SONG NAME is of course very well produced. The guitars in particular are very well played, and there are interesting lines. There are plenty of synths, however on this album I can't identify which synths are due to Eno and which aren't. And the synths and their styles sound the same on this song as on others and it doesn't make much difference that Eno DID/DID NOT receive an instrumental credit on this song. The main issue I have with SONG NAME is that it sounds very much like all the other songs on this album, and songs on other Bryan solo albums. SONG NAME has ... a vocal melody but it doesn't have any memorable hooks. There isn't anything actually wrong with SONG NAME. Everything is arranged and produced very well. Everything is performed well. There are even hooks particularly in the guitars. But, all that is in the background and smoothed off too much. SONG NAME has a vocal line, but it doesn't really have any strong vocal hooks and any instrumental hooks are a bit far in the background. SONG NAME sounds in the first few seconds as if it might be more interesting, but then the smooth full arrangement and production comes in and any distinctive nature SONG NAME might have is lost.

    As I said, I don't mean this as a joke. Just as a comment as to how uniform this album is. I think that any of these tracks could work well if there were a few of them on a more varied album. But, an album full of excessively polished songs - I'm not sure what purpose this has. It is a Bryan Ferry album. But, the songs merge a bit into one. 'Wildcat Days' has an itnteresting synth hook and what sounds like a synth solo, and it should be more distinctive than it is. How has it disappeared into the flow of this album? I'm not sure.

    Each of these songs sounds fine to me when I focus on them. But, they are all album tracks. There needs to be some standouts. I think that Avonmore is a much better album, simply because there is more variation.
     
  7. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the discussion everybody. Today we're back in the world of installation ambient music. Things are boosted a bit by my copy of Music for Installations having arrived in the mail.
    Today we're on disc 4 out of 6 for the installation, and the first part of this is I Dormeienti. I see that on the schedule on page 150 has us doing Kite Stories tomorrow. The installation this music came from was in 1999, so we're not too far out of thread time.

    There are several different artworks associated with this release. This is the image from Discogs I personally like best and it may not objectively be there best choice.

    [​IMG]



    Spotify link: I Dormienti

    Wikipedia link: I Dormienti - Wikipedia
    Discogs (not very informative): Brian Eno - I Dormienti

    I have the actual physical release of MfI now, and there is a booklet. Howecver, I think the description on Wikipedia is good and I will post that. I may post more information from the booklet later, but my eyes do not work as well as they did so I will find my 3.0 reading glasses and see what additional information can be posted from the booklet later.

    An Opal release, with no catalogue number, this title is only currently available from EnoShop.[3]

    The music on the album is taken from an installation that took place at the undercroft of the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, from 9 September to 6 October 1999.

    The event featured the work of Italian painter, sculptor and set designer Mimmo Paladino, who became established in the early 80's as one of the main exponents of the so-called Transavanguardia, a form of neo-expressionism and lyrical abstraction. This was the second of his exhibitions; the first did not feature Eno's collaboration.[4]

    His exhibition was in the form of drawings and terracota sculptures - about 30 reclining figures with about 20 attendant crocodiles he called I Dormienti, "The Sleepers". The publicity notice said of it, "in the centre of a labyrinth of tunnels, Paladino will create an installation of primordial life forms that will be accompanied by Eno's unique sound and light production".[5]

    In actuality, Eno had nothing to do with the lighting; illumination was provided by the venue's dim emergency lights, which imparted a pallor to the sculptures and drawings. The music came from well-concealed speakers and consisted mainly of a three-note [Neroli (album)|Neroli]-esque sequence, and electronic noise. In his recent installations at Bonn and Amsterdam, stories spoken very slowly, one or two words at a time, were used in the performance, and here the method was developed further with treated, sampled voices speaking in syllables — an idea which would be used in his next album, Kite Stories.

    The material condensed onto the album in a single track consists of ten or so layers of the aforementioned syllables, speech excerpts, the standard Eno treated piano, and various drones and echoes.


    There is one track on the release, so no track listing really nor any credits. I presume that Eno did everything musically.

    Mimmo Paladino is an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy, and here is a brief description of his work and a selected list of exhibitions (only going back until about 2006).

    Mimmo Paladino | Artist | Royal Academy of Arts

    Here is a brief description (and photos) from what is described as Paladino's and Eno's 1999 exhibition. Mimmo Paladino: Solo Exhibition - South London Gallery

    And:

    [​IMG]

    But, here is someone walking around something titled 'Eno Paladino' which looks utterly unrecognisably different. But which has what looks like the lying down figures from the album cover above. (Terrible sound and picture quality alert).

    https://youtu.be/r3eLfGbDdBA
     
  8. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    "I Dormienti":

    Another effective ambient track that I can imagine having worked well with the installation. On its own, there is enough variety with the vocoder and other distorted vocal sounds and piano to keep my attention. It seems something is being whispered, just out of earshot, but of course that's not the case. Cool effects though.
     
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  9. William Gladstone

    William Gladstone I was a teenage daydreamer.

    Location:
    Panama City, FL
    Yes, I think you nailed it here. There isn't one song that I think "I need to skip this one," as all of them are enjoyable. The problem is that the same thing I like or dislike about one song is identical with all the rest. To poorly play off Schrodinger's Cat, this album is both good and bad at the same time for the same reasons. :)
     
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  10. William Gladstone

    William Gladstone I was a teenage daydreamer.

    Location:
    Panama City, FL
    I Dormienti - I have mixed feelings on this one as it's a bit of a dichotomy of moods. On the one hand, there's the soothing, layered, ambient warmth that we all appreciate, and those aspects are interesting and hold my interest. On the other, the vocoder and whizzing, buzzing noises are a bit abrupt and at times jarring. I don't have a problem with them being there, but they are so far up in the mix that instead of adding an interesting, subtle texture, they distract from the overall vibe. And perhaps that is the point. I'm not sure how well this would play out as part of a visual experience, though I can imagine the buzzing sound going from one corner to the next as you enjoy the pieces, especially in a dim setting, having an interesting effect, keeping you alert instead of lulled; but standing on its own, I Dormienti almost seems to contradict itself. And again, perhaps that is the point.
     
  11. ciderglider

    ciderglider Forum Resident

    I Dormienti - I don't have much to say about this, except that the vocal samples remind me of Jean Michel Jarre's Zoolook, which was probably 10 years earlier.
     
  12. brew ziggins

    brew ziggins Forum Prisoner

    Location:
    The Village
    I Dormienti

    ...

    so, what are we reviewing tomorrow?
     
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  13. Summer of Malcontent

    Summer of Malcontent Forum Resident

    I love I Dormienti. It's soothing, but also gently sinister, so it's one of those ambient pieces with a bit of an edge. great for falling asleep to, appropriately enough!

    Mamouna I own but have only listened to a few times. I don't hear much Eno there (unlike his glorious 'I Thought' on the Frantic album, where I don't hear much Ferry apart from the vocal).

    A much more interesting collaboration from the 1990s, with more audible Eno input, is Laurie Anderson's excellent Bright Red from 1994. Here's the exquisite closer:
     
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  14. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I Diormenti

    This is what's rapidly becoming 'yet another piece of installation ambient music.' I think it is a good one, but going through these one after the other is emphasising that. Though, Eno released a box set of these, so

    Personally I welcome the box set - I have just bought a copy. The pieces do stand up alone, and it's good to be able to get a snapshot of what they would have sounded like.

    I do like leaving my own thoughts to the very last to give everyone else a chance to talk first. It's very interesting for me when rather specific thoughts that others share. E.g. I also noticed a similarity between sounds in this piece compared to Jean-Michel Jarre's 'Zoolonk'. And, I don't feel it's just derivative. Putting those sounds in an ambient context is, I feel valid and there is sufficient originality here.

    I'm guessing that the voices are of natural origin, not synthesised, and processed. I'm also gessing sampling rather than tape tricks. While Eno hasn't done a lot of obvious sampling. EDIT: I see that Eno used various vocal editing/production tricks on the music for Kite Stories, so presumably the same was done here.

    Overall there are a lot of elements here, and again they fit together perfectly. As well as the Zoolook reference (which I believe it to be) this sort of reminds me of sounds and textures from Thursday Afternoon, Apollo, and The Shutov Assembly. The focus on vocals reminds me of some previous MfI material. This isn't new, musically, but it is part of a bigger whole of course - the installation. And, I don't expect absolutely everything to be new and push back boundaries.

    It's enjoyable. I don't hear much if any long term structure. I don't know if there are exact repeats here. There could be. There's enough in the mix to make it its own piece, not too derivative. And, I think that there are enough references to previous music (both Eno's and others) to make it an original synthesis not a copy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  15. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the discussion everyone. Today, in answer to @brew ziggins's question, we are discussing Kite Stories. This is the other bit (not really half) of the fourth disc of the Music for Installations box set. This was released in 1999. So, not too far out of thread time if at all.

    [​IMG]

    YouTube


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1APxhuMKJU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyW4-DhmJcY

    Spotify (tracks from Box Set):

    Kites 1 Kites I
    Kites 2 Kites II
    Kites 3 Kites III

    Wikipedia: Kite Stories - Wikipedia
    Discogs link: Brian Eno - Kite Stories

    Again I think that the best way to describe this is to quote the description from Wikipedia. It is a bit longer this time.

    An Opal release, with no catalogue number, this title is only available from EnoShop.

    The music on the album is taken from an installation—a show featuring music and visuals—that took place at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland, from 11 December 1999 to 6 February 2000.

    The installation included a generative music system and a collection of objects chosen for their spatial presence - stones, sand and light sculptures. The original music was composed of eight layers of sound, each one playing on a CD player situated somewhere in the gallery, the sounds from which were all looped, providing an almost infinite variety of sonic possibilities. The music on the CD, at only half an hour in length, is a very much curtailed version of something that lasted for two months.

    Eno made the music in his studios in London. He said "I think of shows like this as 'music in more dimensions' or perhaps 'music for more senses' .... a process more similar to painting or collage than conventional music composition. One element in it is nearly 20 years old; most of it was made last week. The music is divided into 8 independent layers, one of which is playing on each CD player. Since these players are not synchronized, the music constantly recombines into different patterns".

    The heavily-treated, slowed-down & stretched-out vocals on parts II & III are based on a Japanese ghost-story, Onmyo-Ji, by Reiko Otano and was read by Kyoko Inatome, a waitress from his favorite sushi restaurant.[2] Eno comments "I time-stretched her readings using Sound-Designer software, and then re-pitched the stretched voice using Digitech Studio Vocalist".

    "The stars are faraway suns
    In the temple of heaven
    Another name for it is
    The temple of little lights"


    I see that Eno used the 'Digital Studio Vocalist' effect here. Here is a review/discussion of this piece of equipment, posted to Sound on Sound in 1995. Making this model the Digital Studio Vocalist 5000 plausible for use on this album.

    Digitech Studio 5000 Digitech Studio Vocalist

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    "Kites I, II, III"

    Three excellent pieces of ambient music. The stretched-out vocals are even cooler knowing that they are actual words from a beautiful little poem. I was googling "Reiko Otano Onmyo-Ji", but the only results were references to Eno's Kite Stories. Then google suggested I search for "Reiko Okano Onmyoji" and that revealed that Reiko Okano is a manga artist who illustrated a series of short stories called Onmyoji by author Baku Yumemakura. Doesn't seem to be translated into English unfortunately.
     
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  17. brew ziggins

    brew ziggins Forum Prisoner

    Location:
    The Village
    Kite Stories

    ….

    So what are we reviewing tomorrow?

    The installations set is a tedious slog. The gravitational pull of my otherwise all but comprehensive Eno collection has not been enough to yank this box into my house to settle into orbit around my system.
     
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  18. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks Jamsterdammer. Do you have a link to the words of the poem?

    I'm currently listening to the music from tomorrow. It is definitely different.

    Oh, and going back in thread time a bit... I just discovered lumenlondon.com, which is a quite simple site about Eno as an artist. It lists exhibitions and installations in the past and the future.

    https://www.lumenlondon.com/the-artist

    Here are some photos of installations of 77 Million Paintings. To my eyes they work much better projected onto things. Particularly big things.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the entire description of 'The Artist' from the site.

    “If you think of music as a moving, changing form, and painting as a still form, what I’m trying to do is make very still music and paintings that move. I’m trying to find in both of those forms, the space in between the traditional concept of music and the traditional concept of painting.”

    Brian Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer and visual artist. He is known across the world as one of the principal innovators of generative painting and of ambient music, the genre he defined. Eno’s artwork is dedicated almost exclusively to the possibilities provided by the medium of light and his installations of sound and vision have been redefining the world’s iconic architectural spaces since the late 1970s. His work is shown regularly; from Tokyo to Cape Town, from Rio de Janeiro to New York and from London to Madrid.

    Given the extremely rare invitation to exhibit on the Sydney Opera House in 2009, Eno utilised technological innovation to project his 77 Million paintings onto the building’s emblematic sails. His creation, a painting that continually evolves at an almost imperceptible rate of change so that it uniquely dissolves into and defines each passing moment, attracted thousands of visitors every night. The crowds drawn by slowly unfolding combinations of shape and colour that could never be repeated made the installation one of the most photographed views in Sydney in the history of the city. Eno as since gone on to project onto the monumental Arcos da Lapa in Rio de Raneiro, the Palazzo Te in northern Italy and the enormous radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, England.

    "By allowing ourselves to let go of the world that we have to be part of every day, and to surrender to another kind of world, we're freeing ourselves to allow our imaginations to be inspired."

    Eno exhibits his art widely across the world the 77 Million Paintings piece alone shown in over thirty galleries world-wide which is also permanently displayed in Austria and England. His other work using light, his Light Boxes are on permanent display in various locations in Europe, either in the hands of institutions or private collectors.


    In recent years, Eno has been showing one of his audio installations, The Ship, based on his 2016 album of the same name. He describes the materials used as "Speakers & Light".

    As well as his early recordings with Roxy Music, Eno has released 25 studio albums, 13 compilation albums, 26 collaborative albums. He has produced 43 albums including those by U2, Coldplay, Talking Heads and James. Eno has co-written with David Bowie, U2, Karl Hyde, Coldplay, Grace Jones and Robert Fripp and worked with Paul Simon along with many other of the world’s most influential musicians.

    As a composer, Eno has written for many film and television productions (his track Another Green World was the title music for BBC’s flagship Arts programme Arena) and he composed the start sound for Microsoft Windows 95. He has written three music-based apps for iPhone, Bloom, Trope and Scape.

    Brian Eno lives and works in London.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  19. richard a

    richard a Forum Resident

    Location:
    borley, essex, uk
    I've been away for a few days (at Glastonbury actually...) so I've been catching up with all your comments this afternoon.
    Not much I can add to the Installation chat. Eno's done hundreds of these now and and the music is often just variations of tracks like Ikebukuro. It's all very lovely but there's not much one can really about this stuff.
    But I will leap to the defence of Bryan Ferry's Mamouna! It's an album that takes time to reveal it's many many layers of brilliance. Superficially it may seem all rather samey, but there's so much going on underneath. Tiny little guitar licks, weird bits of keyboard, intricate backing vocals. I'd argue that it's his best album since Avalon. Eno's contributions, much trumpeted at the time, are minimal really, and the co-written song betrays no obvious Enoid traits. The sheer amount of time, and the huge amount of overdubs and layers of musicians render the individual contributions almost inaudible as everything becomes part of the tapestry. There was a later Ferry album - Olympia I think - to which Phil Manzanera contributed quite a bit of guitar but he remarked afterwards that he couldn't actually identify his own work at all. But that's how Ferry operates; a couple of crucial notes from, say, Nile Rodgers on this song, a bit of Eno knob twiddling on that song, with the resulting expert input creating a deeply satisfying Ferry soup.
     
  20. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    I was referring to the four lines in your write up from Wikipedia:

    "The stars are faraway suns
    In the temple of heaven
    Another name for it is
    The temple of little lights"
     
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  21. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Kite Stories

    I'm glad that @Jamsterdammer really like these tracks. For me they are nice ambient music, but suffer from me having heard a lot of similar music both recently in the past. These tracks remind me a bit of Neroli.

    I'm a bit disappointed that 'Kites II' and 'Kites III' sound a bit similar to 'Kites I'. 'Kites II' starts sounding as if it will be slightly different, but then returns to a similar sound. There are additional elements, but these are familiar sounds (and general feel) from what has gone before. I wonder if these are three generative pieces and we are hearing three different versions. The treated voice of Kyoko Inatome appears here, as it did on 77 Million Paintings and I Dormienti.

    It's not clear to me whether the music for Kite Stories is the same music from the exhibition in Ritan Park in Beijing, where Eno talked to the men flying kites who were an audience for the music. That description mentions bell sounds that I don't hear here.

    Overall this is very nice music, but I have the issue that I have heard too much music that is too similar to this too recently.
     
  22. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the discussion everyone.

    Today we move onto Making Space. Disc 5 of the 6CD Music for Installations box set. This is very different from everything else in the box set. And, we jump in time to 2010 (and will jump back again reasonably soon.)

    [​IMG]

    This disc was compiled for sale at various installations, starting at the Brighton Festival that Eno curated, which was between May 1-23 2010. Unlike most of the box set, there are other musicians here with writing credits. Presumably these tracks are from the 2009 and 2010 sessions that led to the album Small Craft on a Milk Sea released later in 2010, but Jon Hopkins appears absent here.

    There is no Wikipedia page for this album that I can see. (Neither for Music for Installations).

    For Spotify, given the number of tracks on this CD, I will link to the 6CD box set and you can scroll down to find disk 5. Music For Installations

    For YouTube, here is a playlist someone has made from the tracks released on Eno's official YouTube channel.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLviFExEPdmGKfL60nR0rPN-LfTi4IAZbq

    And, the entire album is available elsewhere on YouTube:



    Discogs link: Brian Eno - Making Space

    Track listing and credits from Discogs:

    1 Needle Click 4:09

    2 Light Legs 3:38

    3 Flora And Fauna / Gleise 581d 3:56
    Composed By – Leo Abrahams
    Guitar – Leo Abrahams

    4 New Moons 4:03
    Composed By – Leo Abrahams
    Guitar – Leo Abrahams

    5 Vanadium 1:56
    Composed By – Leo Abrahams

    6 All The Stars Were Out 3:53

    7 Hopeful Timean Intersect 5:13
    Bass – Tim Harries
    Composed By – Leo Abrahams, Tim Harries
    Guitar – Leo Abrahams

    8 World Without Wind 5:24

    9 Delightful Universe (Seen From Above) 7:33

    We'll eventually arrive at Small Craft on a Milk Sea and we can discuss the overall collaboration more then.
     
  23. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Málaga, Spain
    Making Space:

    This is indeed very different from what came before, and in a good way imo. I would categorize this more as "chill" music than ambient due to the rhythmic underpinnings of most tracks. It's a very diverse album, with only the last tracks returning to ambient. It's also good to hear some other instruments besides synths, especially Abraham's guitar work. According to More Dark Than Shark, tracks 3, 4, 5 and 6 were jointly composed by Eno and Abrahams.

    The last track, "Delightful Universe (Seen From Above)" is wonderful! "Majestic" and "glorious" are the words that come to mind. Far and away my favorite track on the set so far.
     
  24. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    Just to say I’m really enjoying the graphics of these later Eno releases, many of which I’ve never seen before. :)
     
  25. ciderglider

    ciderglider Forum Resident

    As @HitAndRun notes, the Making Space tracks are quite different from the earlier material on the Installations box, and make a pleasant change from the endless prairies of ambience.
     

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