Brian Eno

Music for Films

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The basic core of tracks making up Brian Eno's Music for Films was originally assembled in 1976 for inclusion in a promotional LP of prospective cues sent to film directors. In early 1978, a bit before Music for Airports, Editions EG released Music for Films with little more than Eno's cryptic comment: "some of it was made specifically for soundtrack material, (and) some of it was made for other reasons but found its way into films." As with most things Eno, this led to a good deal of speculation and controversy. One filmmaker long ago stated, "All of that is crap -- this music was never used in any films," and another film student who had tried out some of the cues: "this is the worst music for films ever. These cues don't synch to anything." However, the second filmmaker unintentionally discovered the essence of Music for Films -- the 18 pieces here are little films, stimulating the visual part of one's brain and thus fulfilling their promotional purpose. In that sense, Music for Films was revolutionary in 1978.

Eno's analog music definitely benefits from presentation in the digital domain. The American LP of Music for Films was terrible, crackly sounding, and impossible to track properly. In this new Original Masters "Soundtracks Works" edition, this additional layer of sonic sludge is gone, revealing that the musical textures are simpler than they seemed on the vinyl, rendering details previously inaudible, such as the bass line in Two rapid formations. This CD offers only the same 40 minutes of music issued in 1978 -- "extras" are included on the newly compiled companion disc More Music for Films. The pieces are quite short; some, such as Sparrowfall (1) could have gone longer without wearing out their welcome. The upside is that Music for Films can function as "ambient music for people with short attention spans" -- somewhat oxymoronic, as ambient music is not designed to be paid attention to.

The mid-'70s were still a rather angry period in electronic music at the academic level. Eno's approach differed significantly from both that, and from others, in that his music was not pop-oriented either. Music for Films is the unrecognized link between Discreet Music and Music for Airports -- it is essential Eno, and a landmark collection drawn from among his work.

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