In 2016, as he was preparing for the release of Reflection, Brian Eno admitted that he wasn't quite sure what the term "ambient music" even means anymore. It's been used to describe everything from atmospheric techno to tense, foreboding sound sculptures. For him, it's always referred to generative compositions, unrestricted by time constraints or rhythmic structures, and often left to chance. Reflection continues with the type of albums he initiated with 1975's untouchable Discreet Music. The piece slowly unfolds over the course of an hour, with notes calmly being suspended in mid-air, only to drift away and pop up later at their leisure. Occasionally, there's a cosmic sweep that wisps away in the background at infrequent intervals, providing the biggest element of surprise to the album. Reflection is languid and relaxed, but it's still somewhat somber -- it's meant to be relaxing, but it's not entirely relaxed itself. In terms of similar Eno albums, it's not as sparse or glacial as Neroli, not quite as vivid as Lux, and clearer than Thursday Afternoon. As with all of his ambient works, it's minimal and non-distracting, but there are subtle alterations and changes, and it does reward any amount of attention paid to it. In its recorded form, Reflection has a proper ending -- the last few minutes fade out very slowly. However, with this work, Eno took advantage of technology and also released it as an app, endlessly generating music and visuals that continue changing throughout the day for as long as the listener cares to have it going on. There was also a limited early edition of the CD, with each copy containing a one-of-a-kind iteration of the algorithmically generated piece.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson