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Brian Eno and The Aphex Twin: Texturizing the Unheard World

by admin on November 14, 2014

The names Eno and Aphex Twin are easily recognized by those of us who are fans of classic electronic music. All though we may have become familiar with their names and individual crafts, it is quite easy to ignore the make up of what an artist does and how it affected or compared with the time period in which they came from. Here we can analyze exactly what the similarities in the anthologies of both Brian Eno and The Aphex Twin are and what led both musicians to become such powerful figures in their respective genres.

Both musicians listed above have quite a history of experience with the compositional processes. Brian Eno was originally in an art-rock band called Roxy Music, which experimented with many out of place sounds. Brian Eno also claims to hold influence from avant-garde minimalist composers Steve Reich and La Monte Young. Eno’s work Ambient 1: Music for Airports is considered a milestone within ambient music and has become synonymous with the genre itself. Many would allude to the fact that Richard D. James, also known as Aphex Twin, would go on to be influenced by this. Since the late ’80s, James has released hundreds of songs under dozens of different monikers (most commonly Aphex Twin) within genres such as acid, house, and IDM (intelligent dance music). However, his most notable works have been credited to be within ambient music, particularly his albums Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and Selected Ambient Works Vol. II. These albums were critically hailed for their extensive progress in Eno’s original ambient concept and their minimal yet detail-oriented approach. One interesting and notable bit is how these milestones achieved by Eno and James changed the way most electronic musicians viewed the studio and the equipment they were using.

Similarities have also been found between the two artists involving their extensive use of gear and the justice it often does their work. Eno has worked with all sorts of synthetic instrumentation in his career, yet still admits that he often prefers the computer, regardless of the fact that it may lead to the loss of certain sonic capabilities. () It has been said that Eno “uses the recording studio as if it were a giant instrument… recording, treating, and manipulating sounds through technology is the basis of his art.” James has quite a roster of machines himself, in fact, his most recent release Syro has over 100 synths, drum machines, mixers, and other instruments alone on it. He is also known to construct his own instruments and programs to further his distinct sound.

Differences begin to arise in terms of the two’s political and philosophical beliefs. The Aphex Twin has recently released many off-the-wall statements involving his beliefs on 9/11 and The Illuminati. One might even go far enough to say that these beliefs translate into his work, as it contains elements of schizophrenia and, at times, sheer terror. Eno, on the other hand, has rarely ever shown interest in politics or their integration into musical composition. He has always been more interested to see how his work is interpreted by his listeners and how it affects their listening experience. Considering this, his music has always been responsive to events happening around it. Eno had once even said “when musicians become overly political, they tend to rely too much on language.” Because Eno’s compositions are usually instrumental ( To deviate from new age, Eno wanted to create a new type of music that was “both ignorable and interesting” and would have non-intrusive qualities. This would later be known as generative music, which has a starting point created by a few simple elements and is basically left unfinished. This type of music could easily be placed within the background or foreground, which was unique to his compositions. Both musicians seem to hold their own beliefs to influence their musical behaviors in oddly specific ways. While both are known for their ambient pieces, much more is left undiscovered about the artists outside of these works.

by Alex Fresa
Hebergement web July 12, 2016 at 4:08 am

Richard D James’s first album as Aphex Twin for 13 years won’t change the world, but it sees him doing what he does best, which can be jaw-dropping, writes Tim Jonze

Jon Michael Askew November 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I really enjoyed your presentation and I cant wait to hear your final paper. I think drawing a comparison between Eno and Aphex Twin makes alot of sense and it definitely is a great example of how younger generations of musicians re-interpret past influences. I find the differences between the artists fascinating as well, I think Eno’s approach is much more political-social oriented and Aphex Twin has a much different vibe and message- especially since half of his music is crazy, up-beat cocaine club music, and then his ambient works provide a mellow come-down. Keep up the good work!

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