Brian Eno – 'Lux'
By Oliver Keens
‘Lux’ is 75 minutes long. For quite a few of those minutes you’ll hear dead space between notes. Imagine hearing a ‘plink’, lazily counting to four, and then hearing a ‘plonk’ – at times, that’s how dull ‘Lux’ can be. Ah, but famed sonic guru Brian Eno invented the beatless, mood-over-melody genre of ‘ambient music’, you may say. It's a fair point, but what made his great ambient pieces of the ’70s (such as ‘Ambient 1: Music for Airports’) so vivid and vital was a pioneering use of electronic instruments that fit this new style of music like a glove and gave it a futuristic and progressive edge. By contrast, the use of acoustic instruments such as plangent pianos and violins makes this record sound closer to abstract jazz or minimalist classical music – an area in which Hilary Hahn and Hauschka's 'Silfra' worked in earlier this year, with truly mesmerising results. By contrast, 'Lux' desperately fails to excite in nearly the same way. Ambient music as a style wears a bulletproof vest – its aim of lingering discreetly in the background makes it hard, nay, conceptually impossible, to criticise for being boring. But ‘Lux’ is boring, and if you somehow manage to make it through all 75 minutes, the only sound you’ll take away with you is the smug crunch of a man resting on his laurels.