October 15, 2008 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Brian Eno brings generative music to the iPhone.
posted by Artw (39 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A list of FAQs will appear on this site as soon as some questions have been frequently asked!
posted by fixedgear at 4:38 PM on October 15, 2008

That's really cool, thanks.
posted by aeighty at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2008

When the album was finally played at an airport people complained of nameless, gnawing anxieties

People have no taste. I've never slept more soundly than with Music for Airports playing. Although the 4th album of the Ambient series is pretty intense, in an ambient way.
posted by topynate at 5:00 PM on October 15, 2008

I love Eno even when I'm not exactly sure what the hell he's going on about. Even when I don't like music he's working on, I'm always interested in his approach.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:04 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

More music-creation devices, as far as I'm concerned, can only be a good thing. But watching the videos makes me wonder if Eno ever played Electroplankton.
posted by box at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2008

Ambien music, the t is surplus to requirements. Seriously though, I love the idea of generative music, but the execution is extraordinarily difficult.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:49 PM on October 15, 2008

"It is hypnotic and ludicrously addictive. A friend of mine spent six hours poking the screen of her iPhone, mesmerised by the colours and noises she was making" Six hours? C'mon at least mention the psychedelic substances involved!

And i must second topynate in that I have been listening to Music for Airports as my go-to-bed album for a year now. There is nothing but relaxation in that album.

Brian Eno is a musical genius and I love that he is still pioneering.
posted by iurodivii at 5:50 PM on October 15, 2008

Interesting. Statistically, over 85% of you listen to Eno's sounds every day, if you're on any recent Windows OS. When you start up, reboot and turn off, you're listening to his work, albeit for a few seconds. (Error message, download and other sounds too)
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 5:51 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

over 85% of you listen to Eno's sounds every day, if you're on any recent Windows OS

Only if 85% of you are still using Windows 95. Other people did the later versions (Fripp did Vista!)
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:09 PM on October 15, 2008

He did a similar thing with 77 Million Paintings. I uninstalled it after a while - I love a lot of Eno's work, from his wonderful compositions with Harold Budd to the guilty pleasure of St. Elmo's Fire - but the whole reason I like ambient music is because it isn't participatory.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2008

Here came my warm jets.

(ugh, sorry)
posted by basicchannel at 6:33 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does it record to the iPhone, or play only? Anyone buy it? $4.

Apple on Eno.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:36 PM on October 15, 2008

I bought it and am downloading it now. I’ll be back in 6 hours for my review.
posted by ijoshua at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2008

> Does it record to the iPhone, or play only? Anyone buy it? $4.

A friend kept raving at me on AIM about it. And then other friends began raving about it on Twitter. I watched the YouTube link in the OP (there are many, many more YouTube videos of 'Bloom' in action as well, if you need 'em). I finally folded.

When you launch it, here's a low-midrange drone, kind of synthy, kind of like a sarod. The key shifts occasionally. Tap the screen and you strike a note, sounding something like an upright piano and something like a wood marimba, but whatever it is it's got the reverb of a large chambered room. Tap low on the screen for a low note, high on the screen for a high note. Chords are possible. Intervals are limited to avoid dissonance, but it's not hard to generate noise clashes if you're determined to try. You can't control attack or sustain, and dragging finger does nothing. There are different mood settings but I haven't been able to pick up on the differences. All the moods are named after incenses, so I think the whole point is to evoke a diffuse, impossible-to-grasp sensation.

If you tap the screen a lot through a couple loops it'll begin dropping notes; there are obviously technical limits you can't blame on Bloom's developers, and anyway it's not something you're supposed to play Fats Waller on.

After you noodle for a while you can leave the toy alone. It'll continue looping through the patterns you'd entered, subtly varying volume and timing. That's the beautiful bit: Turn the app on, plug your headphones in, noodle for a while, and let it do its thing. How monotonous it gets depends on how well you're able to treat it as a proxy for ambient sounds. If you need something to mask out your office chaos and have noise-canceling headphones, you'll never have to buy another album of background music again. Four bucks is the bargain of your life.
posted by ardgedee at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Only if we're still using Windows 95, and have speakers connected, and have the sounds turned on, and still use the original ones. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's a pretty small group, especially among the Metafilter crowd.
posted by box at 7:53 PM on October 15, 2008

Best iPhone app so far. Even my wife, not necessarily an "electronic" music fan, spent hours playing with it in the car. She's not a musician, but she composed quite a beautiful soundtrack for us while we were cruising down the highway.

This is a great new avenue for musicians to make money to offset the death of record sales. I can't wait for the Aphex Twin and Squarepusher apps!
posted by afx114 at 7:59 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okeh, in less than 10 minutes, I can tell you I like it better than Everything That Happens.
posted by ijoshua at 8:02 PM on October 15, 2008

And yet, less than a week after Eno's application, he's outdone by RjDj...
posted by kaseijin at 8:21 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oblique Strategies for the Eno fans. (You can choose a new card or buffer your previous thought...)
posted by malocchio at 8:35 PM on October 15, 2008

I've had this app for a few days and found this weird static in the background makes the app unusable for me on my iPod Touch. Maybe its just the cheap Apple headphones that came with it.
posted by uaudio at 8:44 PM on October 15, 2008

I came close. I have a visualizer that makes cellular automata for the iPhone, but I don't yet have the sound synth! Darn you Eno!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 PM on October 15, 2008

Very cool app, for sure. Would be even better if the tone/eq of the notes changed as you went from left to right on the screen. Also - if instead of the 'moods' affecting the color scheme, they should change the scale/harmony that is being used. Still...pretty badass for 4 bucks.
Go here and click on pretty much any interview from the last 35 years and prepare to be amused, educated, and humbled. I heart Eno.
posted by lukievan at 8:54 PM on October 15, 2008

bought it love it - now if only it could recite neatly aligned words from a calendar too.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:06 PM on October 15, 2008

Hm. One of the few things that's actually made me want, ever so briefly, an iPhone.
posted by limeonaire at 9:14 PM on October 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

eno in Oberammergau
posted by vronsky at 9:30 PM on October 15, 2008

I don't know why, but it seems that Brian Eno has been everywhere lately. I heard his and David Byrne's Strange Overtones on the radio the other day and loved it.

For being 60 or so, the guy still has great quantities of 'it."

I also found his take on creating the Windows 95 tone pretty interesting, although he really seems like more of an Apple guy, if that makes any sense.
posted by clearly at 9:36 PM on October 15, 2008

This thing is pretty amazing.
posted by ageispolis at 10:38 PM on October 15, 2008

I'll post a video response of myself playing Electroplankton on Nintendo DS. The "ambient" mode is pretty similar. Youtube name same as this one.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 12:27 AM on October 16, 2008

That Vexations is a real toe-tapper...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:49 AM on October 16, 2008

Oblique Strategies on Twitter. Probably the best use of the Twitter interface yet. what?
posted by pxe2000 at 4:32 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

> Oblique Strategies for the Eno fans. (You can choose a new card or buffer your previous thought...)

Freeware Oblique Strategies for Eno fans with iPhones. (Link will launch iTunes)
posted by ardgedee at 4:37 AM on October 16, 2008

Sweet, the oblique strategies made it to the iphone. I was wondering if that would ever happen. They are surprisingly helpful when you feel blocked or annoyed.
posted by milarepa at 7:15 AM on October 16, 2008

I love this app. Kind of pointless, but totally soothing and mesmerizing.....well, I guess that is the point.
posted by chupacabra at 8:09 AM on October 16, 2008

<lloydbridges>I sure picked the wrong week to stop dropping acid.</lloydbridges>

(I just bought it. Really like it. Totally worth it.)
posted by paddysat at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2008

I've been hearing about this for a while. I just downloaded it, and I've spend the last 20 minutes or so playing with it. It really is great, and the sounds it produces are very reminiscent of Music for Airports.

At my last DJ gig, my setup was two turntables and an iPhone (playing MP3s). At my next gig, my setup will be the same, plus this. (I only spin at head parties.)
posted by greenie2600 at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2008

Oh great, just great. ANOTHER reason to get an iPhone.

I'm trying so hard to keep from giving AT&T my data more easily, and now this.

I know, I know, I could buy an unlocked iPhone, or fiddle and fiddle and fiddle with buying a "normal" one and jail-breaking it every so often, but that's kind of beside the point, isn't it.
posted by Relay at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2008

While awesome, the program isn't worth paying for on the Ipod touch right now, as it has some pretty serious problems with really aggravating non-stop static. Total bummer.
posted by domakesaypat at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2008

I love it. Highly recommended.
posted by shoepal at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2008

RjDj is fucking awesome. It's like a Brian Eno soundtrack for your life. I was going to make an FPP about it, but then I noticed it was mentioned here already.
posted by chunking express at 12:16 PM on October 28, 2008

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