Review Summary: With the avant-garde composer Harold Budd on his side, Brian Eno delivers an album of rare beauty and transcendental abilities.
Take a good look at the album cover. What you see is probably a kind of map. It's a pretty simple one: just some colorful dots depicting a wide and flat area, like a rural terrain. Thin blue lines are also clearly visible, and some dark brown spots on the northern side. You can easily tell that these are the rivers and the mountains. For the writer, this used to be a damn desperate place with his first look on that mustard-yellow colored map. He closed his eyes and all he could think was something like a desert or a steppe, a secluded place devoid of human presence. Enter The Plateaux of Mirror
and the whole area is somehow transformed: the place is now an endless meadow with rye and a dominant gentle breeze is swooping through it, producing a subtle sound. You are left wondering what has happened in those few seconds in which the record started playing.
This is Ambient 2
by Harold Budd and Brian Eno.
Released on the April of 1980, 2 years after the sterilized and brilliant Music For Airports, The Plateaux of Mirror
is the second addition to the famous Ambient series.With the avant-garde composer Harold Budd on his side, Eno delivers once again an album of rare beauty and transcendental abilities. What the self proclaimed non-musician is trying here is a musical exploration with Harold Budd on the front, paving the way for his atmospheric sounds. Eno is working like a cartographer. He cleverly unleashes Budds' humble instinct on piano to create a simple and moving piece, and then comes up to discover what his fellow colleague has unveiled. He also found that this procedure worked well in the opposite way: "...I would set up a sound, he would improvise to it, and occasionally I would add something: but it was mainly him performing in a sound-world I had created".
This magnificent interaction happens to be the albums' stronger point and its' creators' greater challenge.
It is essential for The Plateaux of Mirror
to be perceived as whole. The main element is definitely Budds' fragile piano melodies fused with Eno's various treatments. The piano lines are smooth and slow, and the sonic soundscapes work as a carpet letting the listener the proper space for his/her nostalgic imagery to stay afloat. The music is creating a dreamlike effect, in which the melodies are perceived in a misty way, not letting you easily decrypt them. With no common structure as help for digesting the songs, and with the addition of the quaintly interesting, tickling sounds that barely appear on the background ( like in the homonymous song ), the listener gets the feeling of traveling to places imagined and nonexistent. It's a unique, inherent power that is also present in Eno's other works with similar effects. The compositions carry a weird sense of a heavenly melancholy, like an eerie calmness in which the human element is completely missing.
Brighter and with a resonant optimism penetrating its' essence, The Plateaux of Mirror
is treading grounds right next to its' New Age imitators. Still, there is no such thing as a deeper spirituality deteriorating its' quality. What we have here is a subtle confession of two unique composers, that only foreshadows the birth of even greater things. All you have to do is listen. Carefully.