I hate obnoxious people. Particularly obnoxious people that seem to know everything about music. My school has a music appreciation club and I am one out of the whopping seven members in this exclusive club. Four of them are good friends, and have been since elementary school. Therefore I am an outcast and my opinions usually mean nothing. The club meets once a week, usually on Thursday because we had a vote and the majority one. Go figure. The club announced that next week we would be discussing electronic/ambient music, so bring in some good albums. The first thing that popped up in my mind was Brian Eno's 'Ambient 4: On Land.'
I went into the room which we meet at and sat down on a stool. I passed up the album and got surprisingly acceptable stares from the elite members of the group. We chatted about Eno and talked about how he can do almost anything dealing with electronica music. This man can play electro-pop to soothing ambient music that is the equivalent to 'elevator' music. One person asked me why I didn't bring in 'Another Green World' Eno's best album" I simply asked him the same the question and he had nothing to say, probably because he hasn't heard 'Ambient 4'. We practically sat there for half an hour talking about how great Eno is. The conversation could have been summed up in just five simple words. Brian Eno is the man.
I could go on for days discussing why Eno is the man, but that is not important right now. I'll start off by giving you a basic idea of the albums overall sound, which can be described in one measly paragraph. The title of the album gives you a great idea of what most of this album sounds like. Every song off here is soft, gentle, and extremely quiet. I've realized that things work best when you just put this on and let it flow in the background. While you're doing homework, trying to get to sleep, or just want something playing in the background this album is extremely effective. Sometimes the music goes on for a really long time without any change. A muffled keyboard line can go on for minutes and the changes are so subtle and hard to hear that you might not even notice them. Most of these songs start of will a soothing keyboard effect, and then that keyboard effect is joined by one single bass note creating a dense and hypnotic feel. Then some more keyboards come in and you have an ambient masterpiece.
Now it's time to start getting a little more in depth. If you really pay attention to 'Ambient 4', it will take you to another place. It can take you to any place that you please. For me, it's a dense forest covered with huge, dark trees all surrounding me. It's damp and foggy outside, the weather is just crappy. I say this because all of these tracks have a dark and muffled tone to them. Every song off the album blends well together, the dense mood is never interrupted. Don't get me wrong, this is not a depressing album but it is very down beat and hypnotic.
If there is one thing that our music club agreed on it was that 'Ambient 4: On Land' does not feature any standout tracks. The album functions as a whole, and no tracks really pop out and distract the mood of the album. That being said there are plenty of instrument changes going on through a few of these songs. "Shadow" features a muffled trumpet, along with some eerie bug like noises. It really makes you feel like you're on a campout, the trumpet adds onto the whole creepy feel of the song. "Tal Coat" is the most experimental and poppy tune off the album. The song contains many bubbly effects, accompanied by some smooth electronic noises in the background. Like many other Eno songs an easy going bass line appears and really sets the mood. As for the other seven tracks on the album, they all follow the same formula that I already mentioned. Keyboard effects start the song off. A gentle bass note comes in and plays repeatedly. Some twinkly guitar notes come in, along with other various electronic effects. Most of these tracks last as long as four to six minutes or so, creating a dense, stormy day album.
Well, there you have it. Eno has created an instrumental album that creates a dark, stormy, and hypnotic mood. Of course you cant just pick this up and give it a listen, it just doesn't work. The album sets a mood, and puts you in a trance. I think that I was the only member of the club to think that this is the weakest Eno album out of the whole 'Ambient' series. If you want an album that is not interrupted with vocals, and sets sort of a gentle, eerie mood then you should defiantly pick this up. This album wont appeal to anyone who isn't a fan of ambient music, it can be hard to get into and listen to at points. That being said it is a must have for any fans of ambient music, or for someone who needs some soothing background music. Hell, 'Ambient 4: On Land' even satisfies the music elitists of the world.