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January 31, 2011


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Interesting juxtaposition of Autobahn/Musik von Harmonia. I wonder, though: isn't "Autobahn" a more melody-based composition than Harmonia's first record, which is more of a proto-industrial work? Writers in the past seem to have made a big deal about the "Fahn, Fahn, Fahn" being so similar to the Beach Boys' "Fun Fun Fun". I guess my point is that it's a more inviting, user friendly record, therefore it was a bigger hit.

I highly recommend going to Harmony in Ultraviolet next for Tim Hecker. I enjoyed An Imaginary Country and put it on my top 20 for 2009, but I keep going back to HiV.

Very excited about Ravedeath.

As far as Eno's ambient albums go, you could do considerably worse than taking them in chronological order and starting with 1975's Discreet Music, especially if you like Another Green World; I admit, though, that I do find his deconstructions of Pachebel's Canon in D on the LP's b-side to be much more interesting in theory than practice.

The first Music for Films, from 1978, was my initial exposure to Eno the artist (as opposed to Eno the producer) and the album clicked with me instantly, but it's 18 or so short pieces--not really characteristic of most of his ambient stuff. There's even a few pieces that could almost be considered funky. Sorta kinda.

1978's Music for Airports, released earlier in the year, may be the most characteristically ambient of his ambient releases, and 1980's Plateaux of Mirrors the most gorgeous. If either of those work for you, I'd recommend 1985's Thursday Afternoon, an hour-long piece which sometimes seems to get overlooked.

There are a fair number of pieces from these released on YouTube if you want to sample--it looks like almost every cut off The Plateaux of Mirrors is there, and I really cannot praise its beauty highly enough.

Hope this wasn't too much info.

[PS: I would entreat her to give it another chance were orbit for my own mixed feelings. "Were orbit"?]

Hi Scott - it happens that I've just taken the Eno plunge myself. At first blush, I like what the other Scott said. "Discreet Music" the (30+ minute) track is absolutely beautiful; the rest of the album struck me as kind of meh, if pleasantly so. I loved Music for Airports and Plateaux of Mirrors, as well as On Land. (I am, incidentally, fairly indifferent towards Another Green World.)

Were orbit = iPhone autocorrect. Should have been "were it not".

Cam - I was thinking more of Deluxe. The first track there is quite similar. And gosh, a 20 minute Kraftwerk jam is more accessible? Germans.

New Artillery - definitely want to check that Hecker out, and am excited for the new one too.

Scott and Richarc - thanks for recommendations! Have either of you heard his Apollo record? I heard just a snippet of it the other day and instantly fell in love, even if I only heard 30 seconds of a track.

Yeah, I love Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. The presence of Daniel Lanois alters things, however. In most ways, that's for the good: Lanois makes things more interesting and varied musically. But while Lanois's certainly not short on atmospherics, he's not really ambient, per se. So his pedal steel (I think it is) is wonderful, but makes the album as a whole less solidly in the ambient genre than many of the other recordings mentioned. That's not necessarily a bad thing, by any means: it could very well mean it'll be your favorite. But it's worth noting.

And I agree with Richard, by the by, that On Land is also marvelous.

Ah, thanks for the insight. Clearly there is a lot of Eno in my future.

The three must-have ambient Eno albums IMO are (in order)

On Land
Music for Airports
Discreet Music

The others are all good as well, but these form the core of his ambient work, I think.

Also I recommend getting My Life in the Bush of Ghosts that he did with David Byrne, not just because its a milestone in using samples in a pop context but it neatly ties mid-80's electro pop, post-punk and his approach toward the ambient. Bush is a noisy record but in a lot of ways satifies the John Cage concept of silence meaning the sounds naturally occurring around you without intention.

And I'll second that Destroyer album being mostly terrible, if not all terrible.

Believe it or not, there was an "Autobahn" 7-inch single:


Also, Harmonia's Deluxe has yet to see a domestic U.S. issue. Kraftwerk circa Autobahn had a U.S. deal with Vertigo records, and then Capitol. It was released here first on 8-track: http://bit.ly/eBoMoo

"A version of the song lasting over 22 minutes was recorded as the title track of the album Autobahn. This was edited to a more modest 4 minutes and released as a single, giving the band an unexpected Top 40 hit in the USA, and other countries, the first of their career. A differently edited version, at 3 minutes duration, was released in the UK, reaching #11, and was later included on the UK compilation LP Exceller 8. The song also reached #12 in Canada (Vertigo VE-203)":


Kraftwerks reputation really rests on Trans Europe Express, The Man Machine and Computer World, I think. At a time when electronic music was mostly either unlistenable classical such as Xenakis or ropey post hippie crap such as Tomita, Kraftwerk's mix of bizarre sounds, danceable rhythms and sardonic lyrics was the sound of exciting urban life - no wonder they were a massive influence on the nascent techno of Detroit and Chicago. Incidentally is it just me who thinks theres a hint of Pocket Calculator in Actress's Splash? Mind you, I really enjoyed the Harmonia music you posted a while back and rather wish I had discovered them at the time (but the music world was harder to navigate back then... cont p.94)

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