Brian Eno

Imaginary Landscapes

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A film by Duncan Ward and Gabriella Cardazzo, Imaginary Landscapes is the ideal and most direct path for gaining insight into Brian Eno's mental, musical world. The filmmakers intercut Eno interviews and conversations with atmospheric, moving landscape shots, both urban and rural. Coupling Eno's music with the visuals, Ward and Cardazzo have, in essence, realized one of Eno's own goals: to generate in listeners an imaginary landscape -- a place, specific or vague, where he wants his music to take them. The film moves viewers through mood-evoking atmospheres as if they are passengers on a quiet, smooth-running train. Eno's music serves as the perfect soundtrack for the documentary about its creator.

During the 40-minute video, Eno discusses a myriad of audio-visual-related subjects, at times positioned at the helm of his synth and using it to present examples. He makes the distinction between an instrument's sound options and its useful sound options, preferring just a few really choice sounds over an overwhelming number. He speaks of making music for imaginary film soundtracks and touches on many abstract concepts, including his desire to create music with "the Long Now and the Big Here."

Imaginary Landscapes also highlights Eno's video installations, particularly Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan (1981), borne of his love for New York cityscapes (especially the tops of skyscrapers contrasted against the sky). In addition, Eno expresses his fascination with using water-related images ("water is constant but not solid") like rivers ("a river is always going somewhere") in his lyrics and composition titles.

As Eno's music is most often based on his own musical theories and theoretical positions, it is only natural that, above all else, Imaginary Landscapes portrays him as a thinker. Mystic Fire Video released the tape in 1989, and it's still in print. Essential for Eno fans, it is also possibly eye-opening for those familiar with him only as a producer for popular bands like Talking Heads and U2.