Has modern music lost humanity? Brian Eno takes 36 seconds to explain
Famed musician, record producer and visual artist Brian Eno is widely regarded as one of alternative music’s most “innovative and influential” figures.
Despite having spent his formative years studying painting at art school during the 1960s, Eno would go on to explore the ideas of experimental music and later join the iconic glam rock band Roxy Music in 1971.
Arriving as the band’s new synthesiser player, Eno and Roxy Music spent two years and two albums together before he made the somewhat surprising move to leave the group in order to focus his attentions predominantly on his solo material. The decision, of course, would prove to be a hugely successful one. With 20 studio albums and eight installation albums, Eno went on to coin the term “ambient music” with emphatic effect.
Eno describes himself as a “non-musician”, has been in high demand ever since he stated his intentions of becoming a record producer. Having worked closely with the likes of David Bowie, Talking Heads, U2, Devo, John Cale and more, Eno has used his avant-garde “treatments” with prolific effect to have a legacy like no other on alternative music.
In a self-reflecting examination of some of Eno’s most influential work, the BBC ran a one-hour feature on the musician as part of their longstanding television docu-series entitled, Arena. The show, which has used Eno’s song ‘Another Green World’ as its opening theme since the first episode in 1975, was given “unprecedented access to observe him working in his studio and talking with friends and colleagues,” the BBC explained. “The master of reinvention engages with fellow influential minds, including Richard Dawkins, Malcolm Gladwell, David Whittaker and Steve Lillywhite, in a series of conversations on science, art, systems analysis, producing and cybernetics.”
At one specific part of the episode, Eno is tasked with answering what he believes to be problematic issues with the creation of modern music, to which he answered: “The temptation of the technology is to smooth everything out,” Eno said in the documentary. “You’re listening to over and over and over and there’s that one bar where the drums are a little bit shakey and you think: ‘Oh, I’ll just put another bar of drums and put them in there’ and indeed, when you’re doing that, the immediate effect is ‘oh, that’s better’.
“But, of course, if you keep doing that what you gradually do is homogenise the whole song until every bar sounds the same, until every rhythm guitar part is perfect, until, in fact, there’s no evidence of human life at all.”
Below, see the clip in which Eno explains the loss of humanity in modern music and, below that, you will find the full episode.