On Land represented a significant move away from the strategies Brian Eno had employed in earlier ambient releases such as Discreet Music and Music for Airports. Instead of using a specific process to generate music with minimal interference from the composer, he here opts for a more gestural and intuitive approach, creating dreamy pictures of some specific geographical points or evocative memories of them. It's quite easy to imagine these works as soundtracks to mysterious footage of imprecisely glimpsed landscapes. On Land is an album that would become highly influential with the rising tide of new age composers, though few if any would capture the chilly beauty or latent romanticism that is part and parcel of Eno. The first piece, "Lizard Point," includes an early recorded performance of Bill Laswell on bass, and one imagines that his association with Eno was a crucial factor in the ambient directions his later work would sometimes take. On Land remains a landmark event in the genre, as well as one of its high-water marks, and sounds entirely up to date 20 years after its initial release. A superb effort.
Ambient 4: On Land Review
by Brian Olewnick