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Brian Eno in 2006

Brian Eno (b. May 15, 1948) is an enormously influential and prolific musician, composer, Record Producer, singer and music theorist, even though he describes himself as a "non-musician". A former art school student, Eno has an enormous amount of credits under his belt that includes his popularisation of ambient music, Sampling and world music, his co-authoring of the "Oblique Strategies" collection of cards alongside Peter Schmidt, his groundbreaking use of the studio as an instrument, his critically acclaimed solo career, his well-regarded work as a Record Producer, his stint in the glam rock band Roxy Music and his creation of the "Microsoft Sound".

Eno's interest in recording technology and experimental approaches can be traced to his studies at Ipswich Art School and the Winchester School of Art, but he had little actual musical training when he joined the glam rock band Roxy Music in 1971. Credited solely as "Eno", he provided synthesiser work, occasional backing vocals and "treatments", operating the mixing desk, tape recorders and serving as Record Producer. He left the band in 1973 over a creative conflict with frontman Bryan Ferry, taking his weirdness with him.

Eno started a solo career almost immediately, bringing a ton of guest musicians in the studio that included all his old Roxy bandmates sans Ferry (Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay, Paul Thompson), John Wetton and Robert Fripp from King Crimson, Simon King from Hawkwind and Paul Rudolph of The Pink Fairies--an ensemble specifically chosen for its musical incompatibility. The resulting hodgepodge of humorous Word Salad Lyrics, catchy rock melodies and experimental touches made Here Come the Warm Jets a notable success. He continued this experimental rock sound for a string of similarly-acclaimed albums, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World and Before and After Science, featuring just as many guest musicians pooled from famous bands as before.

Simultaneously, Eno entered into a long True Arty collaboration with Robert Fripp based around a tape-delay system nicknamed "Frippertronics" and minimalist influences. Eno and Fripp released three albums together: (No Pussyfooting), the first, had exactly one 18-minute track per side. The minimalist direction of these albums along with an apocryphal story about staying in the hospital, eventually drove Eno to abandon rock and dedicate himself to ambient music, releasing another series of acclaimed albums starting with Ambient 1: Music for Airports which are considered landmarks of the genre. Since then, his solo music has largely been electronic and ambient in nature.

Ever since his career began, Eno has split his time between working by himself and acting as a Record Producer. In the latter capacity, he is known for applying his experimental approach in the studio and encouraging a band's creativity. His production work includes, among others:

  • Talking Heads' critically acclaimed More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music and Remain in Light.
  • Every U2 album since The Unforgettable Fire (except Pop), alongside co-producer Daniel Lanois. Eno and Lanois are famous for playing a key role in creating both the band's ambient sound in The Eighties and their futuristic techno-rock sound in The Nineties with their production wizardry. Eno also served as a key player in the Passengers side-project, and even has a number of writing credits on No Line on the Horizon.
  • The soundtrack for the National Geographic film For All Mankind. Wonderfully atmospheric music to accompany the story of the Apollo Project.
  • James' most successful album Laid, its experimental companion piece Wah Wah and Millionaires.
  • A cameo on Slowdive's Souvlaki, providing keyboards and treatments to the songs "Sing" and "Here She Comes". Notably, he refused the band's offer to produce the entire album, saying they were good enough to not need his help.
  • Devo's debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Devo later admitted that they resisted his attempts to provide more sonic treatments and the like, only to later kick themselves for it.
  • Ultravox's debut Ultravox!
  • Coldplay's most recent albums Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008) and Mylo Xyloto (2011). Notably, for Viva la Vida, Eno point-blank told the band exactly what parts of their style completely sucked once he accepted the job and set out to correct those perceived flaws.
  • Laurie Anderson's Bright Red.

He contributed heavily to David Bowie's "Berlin trilogy" (Low, "Heroes" and Lodger), to the point that he and producer Tony Visconti are considered the architects of those albums' sound. He also released two critically acclaimed collaborations with David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

The man's even got a song written about him, courtesy of MGMT.

In short, Brian Eno is awesome and you should listen to him.


Solo albums

  • Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)
  • Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974)
  • Another Green World (1975)
  • Discreet Music (1975)
  • Before and After Science (1977)
  • Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)
  • Music for Films (1978)
  • Ambient 4: On Land (1982)
  • Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)
  • Music for Films Volume 2 (1984)
  • Thursday Afternoon (1985)
  • Nerve Net (1992)
  • The Shutov Assembly (1992)
  • Neroli (1993)
  • Extracts From Music for White Cube (1997)
  • The Drop (1997)
  • Lightness: Music for the Marble Palace (1998)
  • I Dormienti (1998)
  • Kite Stories (1998)
  • Music for Civic Recovery Centre (2000)
  • Compact Forest Proposal (2001)
  • January 7003: Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now (2003)
  • Another Day on Earth (2005)
  • Small Craft On A Milk Sea (2010)

Collaborative albums

With the band 801:

  • June 1, 1974 (1974)
  • 801 Live (1976)

With Harold Budd:

  • Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980)
  • The Pearl (1984)

With David Byrne:

  • My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981)
  • Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008)

With John Cale:

  • Wrong Way Up (1990)

With the band Cluster:

  • Cluster & Eno (1977)
  • After the Heat (1977)
  • Begegnungen (1984) - compilation of collaborative work
  • Begegnungen II (1985) - compilation of collaborative work
  • Old Land (1985) - compilation of collaborative work

With Robert Fripp:

  • (No Pussyfooting) (1973)
  • Evening Star (1975)
  • The Equatorial Stars (2004)
  • Beyond Even (1992-2006) (2007)

With Jon Hassell:

  • Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics (1980)
  • Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

With Rick Holland:

  • Drums Between the Bells (2010)

With Laraaji:

  • Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980)

With U2 (as Passengers)

  • Original Soundtracks 1 (1995)

With Jah Wobble

  • Spinner (1995)
Brian Eno provides examples of the following tropes: