Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Label: Astralwerks
Genre: Experimental / Electronic
Online: Artist Website


He co-wrote with David Bowie on Low, Heroes and Lodger, was a founder member of Roxy Music, as well as the producer of U2's The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, Zooropa, All That You Can't Leave Behind, Talking Head's Fear of Music and Remain in Light, Devo's Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and many more. Brian Eno's contributions to art and popular culutre are immeasurable and he is without doubt one of the most significant artists of our time.

Born Brian Peter George St. Baptiste de la Salle Eno, 15 May 1948, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England. While studying at art schools in Ipswich and Winchester, Eno fell under the influence of avant garde composers Cornelius Cardew and John Cage. Although he could not play an instrument, Eno enjoyed tinkering with multi-track tape recorders and in 1968 wrote the limited edition theoretical handbook, Music For Non Musicians. During the same period he established Merchant Taylor's Simultaneous Cabinet which performed works by himself and various contemporary composers, including Christian Wolff, La Monte Young, Cornelius Cardew and George Brecht. This experiment was followed by the formation of a short-lived avant garde performance group, the Maxwell Demon. After moving to London, Eno lived in an art commune and played with Carden's Scratch Orchestra, the Portsmouth Sinfonia and his own band. As a result of his meeting with saxophonist Andy Mackay, Eno was invited to join Roxy Music in January 1971 as a "technical adviser", but before long his powerful visual image began to rival that of band leader Bryan Ferry.

It was this fact that precipitated his departure from Roxy Music on 21 June 1973. That same day, Eno began his solo career in earnest, writing the strong "Baby's On Fire". Shortly afterwards, he formed a temporary partnership with Robert Fripp, with whom he had previously worked on the second album by Robert Wyatt's Matching Mole, Little Red Record. By November 1973, their esoteric No Pussyfooting was released, and a tour followed. With the entire Roxy line-up, bar Ferry, Eno next completed Here Come The Warm Jets, which was issued less than three months later in January 1974. It highlighted Eno's bizarre lyrics and quirky vocals. A one-off punk single, "Seven Deadly Finns", prompted a tour with the Philip Rambow-led Winkies. On the fifth date, Eno's right lung collapsed and he was confined to hospital. During his convalescence, Eno visited America, recorded some demos with Television and worked with John Cale on Slow Dazzle and later Helen Of Troy. His fraternization with former members of the Velvet Underground reached its apogee at London's Rainbow Theatre on 1 June 1974 when he was invited to play alongside Cale, Kevin Ayers and Nico, abetted by Robert Wyatt and Mike Oldfield. An souvenir album of the event was subsequently issued.

A second album, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), was followed by several production credits on albums by Robert Wyatt, Robert Calvert and Phil Manzanera. This, in turn, led to Eno's experiments with environment-conscious music. He duly formed the mid-price label Obscure Records whose third release was his own Discreet Music, an elongated synthesizer piece conceived during a period of convalescence from a road accident. During the same period, he completed Another Green World, a meticulously crafted work that displayed the continued influence of John Cage. A further album with Robert Fripp followed, called Evening Star. After performing in Phil Manzanera's band 801, Eno collaborated with painter Peter Schmidt on a concept titled "Oblique Strategies", which was actually a series of cards designed to promote lateral thinking. During a hectic 18-month period, Eno recorded 120 tracks, the sheer bulk of which temporarily precluded the completion of his next album. In the meantime, he began a fruitful alliance with David Bowie on a trilogy of albums: Low, Heroes and Lodger. Even with that workload, however, he managed to complete his next solo work, Before And After Science. An unusually commercial single followed with "King's Lead Hat". The title was an anagram of Talking Heads and Eno later worked with that band as producer on three of their albums, including the innovative Fear Of Music and Remain In Light.

Eno then turned his attention to soundtrack recordings before returning to ambient music. Music For Films was a pot-pourri of specific soundtrack material allied to pieces suitable for playing while watching movies. The experiment was continued with Music For Airports. Throughout this period, Eno remained in demand as a producer: and/or collaborator on albums by Ultravox, Cluster, Harold Budd, Devo and Talking Heads. In 1979, Eno moved to New York where he began making a series of vertical format video installation pieces. Numerous exhibitions of his work were shown throughout the world accompanied by his ambient soundtracks. During the same period he produced the No New York album by New York No Wave avant garde artists the Contortions, DNA, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, and Mars. His work with Talking Heads' David Byrne culminated in 1981 with the Top 30 album, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, a fascinating collaboration that fused "found voices" with African rhythms. In 1980, Eno forged an association with Canadian producer/engineer Daniel Lanois. Between them they produced Voices, by Eno's brother Roger, and a collaboration with Harold Budd, The Plateaux Of Mirror. This association with Lanois culminated in the highly successful U2 albums, The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and Zooropa.

In critic Tim de Lisle's words, Eno's involvement "converted" them (U2) "from earnestness to gleeful irony". In 1990, Eno completed a collaborative album with John Cale, Wrong Way Up. The following year there was some confusion when Eno released My Squelchy Life, which reached some record reviewers, but was withdrawn, revised, and re-released in 1992 as Nerve Net. As Eno's first album of songs for 15 years, it fused "electronically-treated dance music, eccentric English pop, cranky funk, space jazz, and a myriad of other, often dazzling sounds'. For The Shutov Assembly (1992), Eno returned to the ambient style he first introduced in 1975 with Discreet Music, and which was echoed 10 years later on his Thursday Afternoon. The album was conceived for Moscow painter Sergei Shutov, who had been in the habit of working to the accompaniment of Eno's previous music. Neroli was another hour's worth of similar atmospheric seclusion. In 1995, he worked with David Bowie on Outside in addition to projects with Jah Wobble on Spinner and sharing the composing credits with U2"s Bono, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr. on Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1. Eno's back-catalogue remains a testament to his love of esoterica, ever-shifting musical styles and experimentation.