"Another Green World" - Brian Eno BBC documentary
December 26, 2010 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this year, the BBC's Arena produced and aired an excellent documentary on Brian Eno entitled "Another Green World" containing "a series of conversations on science, art, systems analysis, producing and cybernetics".

Watch it here 2 3 and/or download it here.
posted by item (19 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

The talk Eno gave last month. We create the world we're living in... Can we imagine different worlds?
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:25 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thanks, item.
posted by greenskpr at 7:16 AM on December 27, 2010

AVAILABILITY: Sorry, this programme is not available to watch again. (why?)
posted by Forest Mars at 7:54 AM on December 27, 2010

related - a film about the Arena title sequence (featuring Eno's Another Green World).
posted by peterkins at 8:04 AM on December 27, 2010

Oh fuck yes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:20 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love Brian Eno. I mean, I don't necessarily love everything he's done, but it is often his touch which pulls a work from being simply good into being really great. He's like the opposite of high-fructose corn syrup -- if I see him on the ingredient list, I'll check out whatever-it-is even if I hadn't considered it to begin with.

And his innovation with generative music and stuff... he's really planting the seeds for a movement in musical appreciation where we don't expecting something to be heard twice, but instead look forward wondering what happens next. It's a new way of listening, where the typical play between expectation and surprise gets upended into an atmosphere of sound in which expectation and surprise fall away into an eternal now.

I really do love Eno. Thanks for posting this.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 AM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

"We didn't go to art school, we went to Brian."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2010

That was excellent. Thanks :)
posted by puny human at 1:09 PM on December 27, 2010

Eno stuff - always appreciated. Thanks for this post. Nothing old fans of Eno won't already be familiar with, but there's some nice footage in here I haven't seen before - young Eno, Bowie, Ferry etc. This is Metafilter at its best.
posted by VikingSword at 1:51 PM on December 27, 2010

Brian Eno has massive influence and makes some beautiful music, but I am suspicious of his relationship with generative and algorithmic music. I saw him give a talk about generative music and Conway's life at the ICA some years ago with high expectations, but left frustrated. He knew little about Conway's life; he demonstrated it with a crummy screensaver, mused at one point how nice it would be if there was software available that allowed you modify the rules, and didn't appear to know what a glider gun was. I don't doubt he was inspired by the game of life, but I think this demonstrates that he isn't interested in what is beneath the surface, only a vague idea of it, or perhaps the sensation of watching it.

I think the same is true of generative music. He didn't have a hand in Koan, but loved the idea. Since then generative music has been synonymous with Brian Eno, despite algorithms being ingrained in musicking throughout history. It seems these days people get around that by calling it 'procedural audio', whatever. Again, I think he's interested in the feel of algorithms, in exploring them with his senses, and making them popular, but not in making or changing them.

I can see how a lot of people will read the above and think "so what?" Eno is a pop musician, after all, and a great one. The problem I have is that generative music apps aren't found objects like pebbles, they're made by people, who have built their musical sensibilities into their software. The 'tool maker' and 'tool user' division gets very murky here. My suspicion is that Eno doesn't see value in deep exploration of algorithms to explore musical structure, but only in getting other people to do that for him, so that he can explore what they've made, and draw that big Brian Eno target on it.
posted by yaxu at 2:41 PM on December 27, 2010

Haven't watched this yet, but I was prompted to take a listen to some Eno that I hadn't heard in a while, and I reached this conclusion: the first few minutes of Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) are the template upon which is based the closing music of every indie "bittersweet romance" movie of the last twenty years.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:02 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

So, does anyone know what the painting or whatever is that rests on the table in the album cover for No Pussyfooting? I reckon the cards are Oblique Strategies or maybe tarot.
posted by exogenous at 3:17 PM on December 27, 2010

generative music apps aren't found objects like pebbles, they're made by people, who have built their musical sensibilities into their software..

i love eno deeply (and the documentary is imho the bbc at its best), but the generative stuff has always struck me as a bit of a dead end, certainly since he started doing it with software and not with loops and synths etc. i remember him banging on some years back about generative music being the future and how our grandchildren would marvel that their forebears used to listen to the same pieces of music again and again. this always stuck me as a faintly ludicrous thing to say for such an otherwise thoughtful bloke. in his diary he envisages using koan to bang out movie scores while he goes off and has lunch, and while he might not be entirely serious, he's always had this love for systems that produce complexity from a few, simple ingredients (discreet music is a good example, and is utterly beautiful).

but doing this via software (as opposed to the more organic methods of cardew's paragraph 7 or discreet music) means you remove the musician from the equation and all you're left with are tweakable parameters, the limits of which have been set by someone else, as you say. and stuff that sounds always qualitatively much the same, even if the same sequences of notes will only repeat once every 200 years or whatever. as todd rundgren would say - 'no, no no. a little more humanity please'.
posted by peterkins at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2010

So, does anyone know what the painting or whatever is that rests on the table in the album cover for No Pussyfooting? I reckon the cards are Oblique Strategies or maybe tarot.

the cards are (IIRC) pornographic playing cards. not sure but the painting might be by peter schmidt??
posted by peterkins at 3:43 PM on December 27, 2010

Yes well said peterkins, it's somehow easy to get excited about perpetual variation but somehow not notice that the perceptual results are qualitatively static. I don't think it's necessarily a matter of taking the musician out of the equation though, more not recognising the musical role of the programmer.
posted by yaxu at 3:59 PM on December 27, 2010

I agree with yaxu. Brian Eno does make some extremely beautiful music, and a lot of the artists I listen to have been influenced by him. I really enjoy his Music for Airports album.

Thank you for this link!
posted by jwmollman at 5:42 PM on December 27, 2010

I'm kind of suspicicious of the software-only solutions too - they do tend to make the kind of mush that Eno decries digital technology for in the film. I do love the various CD-based systems he set up - released as CDRs related to installations he did, which (however repetitive they might be within themselves and one to another) do balance remarkably on the edge between background and listenable. My glib line on them is that they're flower arranging, but flower arranging at a Japanese level of technique.

And that is what it's important to point out about Eno - that at a time when everyone around him was developing their technique, he was developing his taste, and that highly-developed taste is also what makes him different from the other electronica flower-arrangers that have flooded the world over the last twenty years.

On the other hand, as the humourist David Quantick pointed out recently, over the past five years he threw his weight behind Coldplay and the Liberal Democrats, so his taste may be failing him.

Even so, I think he's one of the most important figures in popular culture.
posted by Grangousier at 5:51 PM on December 27, 2010

Let's just put it this way: If Music For Airports had come out before I had completed my first year of studying and composing electronic music, things would have sounded completely different.
posted by Relay at 6:21 PM on December 27, 2010

This just topped off my day. Thank you.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:57 PM on December 27, 2010

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