Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scrabble Value Letters (Z): Zawinul/Lava

Brian Eno: "Zawinul/Lava"

Brian Eno has been an influence on me since before I even knew who he was. As an extremely amateur high school hard rock musician, I sought early exposure through the freshly founded GarageBand.com (which later licensed its name to Apple for use on recording software). At that time, one feature the site offered musicians was to have uploads critiqued by professional musicians. During the registration process, users scrolled through an extensive list of names to choose from. Being the ignorant, malleable ball of brain clay that I was at the time, I only recognized one name on the list, and I couldn't quite put my finger on where I had heard it before: Brian Eno.

That was the name I picked, and it went absolutely nowhere. In truth, I couldn't tell you if I even ever got around to uploading any music for Eno to theoretically review. If that had happened, who knows what interests I would have taken in music. My grunge-inspired teen angst would certainly not have been received well by the god of ambient music. And negative feedback at that volatile time in my life could have instilled in me a permanent aversion to Eno's snooty sounds.

Thankfully, nothing went down that way. My tastes in music have continually evolved, and my appreciation for John Cage's aleatoric music and Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies methodologies have rooted my endless fascination with new sounds. The ambient and minimalist compositions of Eno, Harold Budd, Erik Satie, Moby, Steve Roach, and Klaus Schulze are now the regnant (though often unnoticeable) backdrops to my daily activities.

By the time he released Another Green World in 1975, Eno had already established himself as a musician through Roxy Music and two other solo albums, but with each album, he further explored the ideas of ambient music. This single song, appearing near the end of side two of the record, was a landmark experimentation in minimalist soundscape, standing distinct from the other upbeat, funky riffs surrounding it.

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