Brian Eno

(1948-) Electronic music innovator who is best known as an innovator in Ambient music, as well as the coiner of the term "ambient" to describe his genre of music. And although his achievements in that genre are considerable, he has many other types of work to his credit.

Eno, who had participated in some amateur bands in college despite having no training as a musician, got his start in professional music due to a chance meeting with saxophonist Andy Mackay on a London subway platform in 1970. The two became founding members of glam/art rock band Roxy Music. Eno's role in the band consisted mainly of adding effects and processing the sounds from the other band members' instruments (or sometimes the entire mix) through a VCS3. Eno disliked performing on stage, and at first he performed his live parts from the front-of-house mixing board, but eventually took a place on stage where he become one of the most elaborately costumed band members.

Eno left Roxy Music in 1973 after a dispute with singer Bryan Ferry. He turned to solo work and production, releasing his first solo album, Here Come the Warm Jets, in 1974. This a more experimental version of Roxy Music's glam sound; Eno assembled several groups of musicians (chosen, he said, because he thought their musical styles would clash), and his main contribution consisted of vocals and treatments of the instrument sounds. In the same time period, he and Robert Fripp released their first collaborate album, No Pussyfooting. In this, Eno introduced Fripp to the technique of using two Revox tape machines as a long-period Delay line, which Fripp would evolve over the next two decades into his Soundscapes system. Another notable effort was adding sonic treatments to a few tracks on Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

In 1975, Eno was struck by an automobile while crossing a street in London, suffering life-threatening injuries. He was hospitalized and confined to bed for months afterward. During that period, he began creating the album Discreet Music, which is often considered the work that invented the ambient genre. Eno explained that it was inspired by listening to music at very low volume while he was in the hospital. He would expand on this in his Ambient 1-4 series of albums through the rest of the decade. Eno was also getting many calls to do production for other artists. He produced, played synthesizers, and substantially influenced the content of singer David Bowie's "Berlin trilogy" albums, which marked a considerable change of direction for Bowie.

In the 1980s, Eno focused more on production, as well as his interests in the visual arts. He produced the album The Unforgettable Fire for the New Wave band U2, introducing synths to the band's previously electronics-free music. They would collaborate on three other U2 albums through the decade, as well as a number of side projects. He also collaborated with, and promoted, the post-punk bands Devo and Talking Heads. The 1990s found him moving back towards his own music, and he became interested in "generative music", a sort of more advanced version of the Revox tape loops, in which sequences of different lengths are played in synchronization to create a large variety of melodies and progressions. More recent works include symphonic experiments, film soundtracks, and collaborations with Underworld's Karl Hyde.

Eno has always advertised himself as a "non-musician", focused on timbre and random possibilities more than on melody or rhythm. Despite this, much of his solo and collaborative work is quite listenable and not as atonal as the reviews might suggest. He works extensively at synth patch creation; in the 1980s, he was noted for his ability to get pad sounds out of the DX7, which tended to favor harsh sounds. He supposedly has a carbon fiber skin graft, and he claims that the arm with the graft is lighter than the other arm because of it.

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