[Tribute to Brian Eno] – ‘Translucence’ (1974-2018)


Brian Eno is a non-musicians’ musician.  Through his wildly rich and varied body of work as a maker and shaper of sounds, he has always emphasized taste over virtuosity, ideas over skill, texture over songcraft, and intuition over knowledge.  Not that he doesn’t recognize the place and time for virtuosity, skill, songcraft, and the known–he’s always made music that is fully realized and enjoyable, never ideological or experimental-for-its-own-sake.  Through Roxy Music, his own early song-based work, his affiliations with Bowie and Devo and Talking Heads, he has proved one of the true keystones of my path of musical discovery over the last quarter century.  He’s probably less than six degrees of separation from just about all modern music, because his focus was on the excitement and emotion and humanization we experience through sound itself, and rarely ever limited to the finite bounds of genre or style.  Nothing exemplifies his boundless exploration more fully than his self-described ambient work.

While ambient music is decidedly non-song-based, Eno’s ambience is deeply musical even when it’s not melodic, deeply emotional even when it’s also meant to fulfill the role of sonic furniture.  For me, the apex of his ambient work is ‘Ambient 4: On Land,’ where traditional melody and even traditional musical notes fall away, taking the concept of soundscapes as far as possible toward landscapes, into the realm of field recordings of imaginary and yet nearly corporal places.  Here he reveals that music is embedded deeper in us than any conscious notation or practiced rhythm: that perhaps the first music was ambient, the sounds of the world around us, the accidental chorus of air and animal and water.  ‘On Land‘ is not always dulcet tones, and it’s often thick and marshy in contrast with the light twinkling of ‘Music for Airports‘.  But its evocative richness is to me the sound of warmth itself, and I often find myself returning to it when my usual voracious bursting-at-the-seams musical diet starts to overwhelm–when I need to go home and be still in the presence of the essence of beauty.

The mixes I’m most proud of at Musicophilia (even if they’re probably the least-heard) are those in the ‘Sensory Replication Series‘.  At their core, the ‘Sensory‘ mixes are seeking to create that quasi-spatial field of ‘On Land’ and Eno’s other ambient music.  But even those mixes typically meld a “spine” of song-based (however experimental) music embedded in a body of more esoteric pieces.  With ‘Translucence,’ I wanted to remain fully in the non-verbal, warm, rich, thick, emotional, soothing and yet not soporific sphere of Brian Eno’s ambient music.  In tribute to his ambient achievements, ‘Translucence‘ works with the watercolor-like qualities of ambient music, blending disparate pieces from across five decades into new wholes, focusing this time on discovered consonances and serendipitous sympathies, while (like ‘On Land‘ or Eno’s “Variations” on Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D‘) allowing for the beauty of momentary tensions and dissonances that give depth and character to the most beautiful and rewarding ambient music.

Translucence‘ was culled and mixed quickly, “first take best take”-style on Sunday, April 1st, both Easter and April Fool’s Day.  It felt like an appropriate day for music both primeval and spiritual, pagan and ecstatic.  The result was exactly what I was looking for, and I hope you’ll enjoy.

Thanks again to my friend Eric, whose beautiful photography visually mirrors these rich and yet delicate sounds.

Various – ‘Translucence
A Tribute to Brian Eno | (1974-2018)


01 [00:00]
Yazz Ahmed – “Exhale” (2017)
Egisto Macchi – “Le Genti del Deserto” (1974)
Mnemonists – “Limbs” (1981)


02 [05:00]
Earthen Sea – “Delicately In the Sunlight” (2017)
Cliff Martinez – “Will She Come Back” (2002)


03 [09:50]
Pauline Oliveros – “Suiren” (1989)
Francisco – “Cosmic Beam Experience” (1976)
Susumu Yokota – “Saku” (2000)


04 [15:50]
Passengers – “Theme From ‘The Swan'” (1995)


05 [18:50]
Luciano Cilio – “Studio for Winds” (1977)
Paul Motian – “Psalm” (1982)
Bernard Parmegiani – “Geologie Sonore” (1975)


06 [24:20]
Daniel Littleton – “Elegy #1” (2002)
Monoton – “HZ Waltz” (1982)
David Sylvian – “The Wooden Cross” (1986)


07 [29:20]
Huun Huur Tu – “Harmonics in the Wind” (1999)
Brian Eno – “Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)” (1982)
Peter Gabriel – “Powerhouse at the Foot of the Mountain” (1985)
Matthew Herbert – “Forest Montage” (2002)


08 [34:20]
Shoko Hikage – “Sakura Zukiyo” (2013)
Chuck Johnson – “Riga Black” (2017)


09 [41:50]
Yo La Tengo – “Shortwave” (2018)
Tod Dockstader – “Approach” (2005)
Gigi Masin – “Tharros” (1986)
Michael Brook with Brian Eno – “Pond Life” (1985)


10 [46:00]
Arvo Part – “Spiegel im Spiegel” (1976)
Robert Fripp & Brian Eno – “Wind on Water” (1975)
The Haxan Cloak – “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)” (2013)


[Total Time: 56:30]

Download ‘Translucence’ Here (131MB)

Stream here:

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4 thoughts on “[Tribute to Brian Eno] – ‘Translucence’ (1974-2018)

  1. Looking forward to listening to this tonight. Really appreciate the quality of your mixes – they’ve introduced me to a lot of great music.

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