The first full-scale collaboration between brothers Roger and Brian Eno is a lengthy set of tone poems meant to evoke different colors and shades. Recorded over a 15-year period, the album simply began with Roger improvising melodies using a digital MIDI keyboard and sending them to Brian, who altered their timbres and textures. While Brian added treatments to Roger's 1985 solo debut, Voices, the pieces on Mixing Colours don't feel quite as windswept, nor do they get quite as dramatic. Much of the album consists of sparse, gentle notes that resound clearly, with sound waves reverberating from the center like ripples on a pond. Many of the compositions seem simple enough to be played on an acoustic piano, but Brian's sonic manipulations add so much character and take them just enough into the realm of the unfamiliar that the record doesn't directly resemble any other. Moodwise, much of the album tends to be eerie and mysterious but not quite foreboding, and occasionally sad and blue yet not as if it's bawling its eyes out. "Burnt Umber" seems like music for a reflective scene in a mystery film, with a slightly ominous bell-like melody and carefully paced chords. "Obsidian" is more of a drifting, glowing organ drone, and the biggest departure from the clearer melodies of most of the record's tracks. Moments like "Blonde" and "Rose Quartz" are sweet and wistful, mingling sadness with joy. The album seemingly becomes more spaced out towards the end, but the concluding "Slow Movement: Sand" feels like a solemn resolution and is one of its more affecting tracks.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson