Harold Budd and Brian Eno
Ambient 2 - The Plateaux of Mirror



by scissorlocked USER (35 Reviews)
March 1st, 2011 | 17 replies

Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

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.

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user ratings (52)
other reviews of this album
Grayson Hale (4.5)
An album cover seldom sets the scene as well as this one does; this is the musical backdrop to pure ...

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 1st 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

I wanted to include more thoughts on this album like the first person perspective it gives you while listening, but it was kinda difficult to write, so this is the final review.

Constructive criticism is welcome.

March 1st 2011


the best of the ambient series

March 1st 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

In my opinion the 4th album is the best one, but this also is truly amazing

March 1st 2011


second to last paragraph excited my interest, especially with descriptions like "dreamlike effect" and "nostalgic imagery", sounds like something I would enjoy. good review man, pos'd, i like the first paragraph and how it works its way into the rest of the review's point

March 1st 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

thanks a lot bro

It's surely an enjoyable album

you can put it playing while you read or before sleeping, it'll work just fine

March 1st 2011


those kinds of albums are usually the kind i enjoy the most, I'll definitely give this a listen when I get the chance

Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


two minor suggestions to a very well written review (pos).

Eno is working like a cartographer

Eno shapes the earth upon which Harold Budd will walk

a resonant optimism penetrating it's essence

penetrating its = soaking its

i should check this i guess, the only ambient stuff i have experienced is some Tangerine Dream and No-Man records.

Digging: Chapter V:F10 - Syndrome

March 2nd 2011


great work bro, especially considering how piss hard writing ambient reviews are.

i too should check this out, seeing as how i only have ambient 1 and 4 from eno

March 2nd 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the feedback guys.

@Voivod: Tangerine Dream are huge man. I guarantee that's you'll enjoy this if you choose to give it a try

@Sitflammable: Ambient 1 and 4 are maybe even better, but this is also great

March 2nd 2011


Music for Airports is nice, I have been planning to listen to the rest of Eno's ambient series. Great work man, not the easiest genre to review, but the descriptions work really well.

March 2nd 2011


Great to see Laraaji's record among your recommended albums !

Second paragraph is really good and your rate is absolutely reasonable.

Harold Budd's Music for 3 Pianos & A Song for Lost Blossoms are two great releases that I recently listened to . Recommended for those who enjoy Ambient 2

March 2nd 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

I'm glad that you liked it Nag.

relativeworld: I'm aware of Budd's albums, although I haven't checked them yet. I'll surely do it though

June 17th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

brilliant album

August 29th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this is pretty special. I like it more than Ambient 1.

November 15th 2012


Way better than Music For Airports, in my opinion. It just has that beauty that no other Brian Eno album can reach (except for Another Green World).

January 10th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

best ambient eno yea

March 13th 2014


Damn myself for sleeping on this.

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