The Centre for Contemporary Music Cultures at Goldsmiths had its first guest speaker last night: Brian Peter St. John Le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, composer, video artist, record producer, sound engineer, prolific musical collaborator, recording artist in his own right, etc etc. Quite a coup to get him to come along and talk to us and obviously much for him to talk to us about. Predictably, he didn't dish much dirt about Bowie's cocaine-fuelled excesses or those marathon sex sessions with Roxy Music groupies. The most gossip we got was his story about going back to his flat in Maida Vale with Talking Heads in the late seventies and playing them records by Fela Kuti, who he thought was the future of pop music. Talking Heads agreed, apparently.
Not surprisingly, there's already lots of stuff on the internet about him and his varied career but here's a list of some of the topics he touched on in his hour and a half with us, along with links to some sites which go into a bit more detail:
- Generative music (which he claimed to have invented although a lot of the contemporary music crowd at Goldsmiths were of the view that other composers did this before, or better than, Eno);
- "Ambient" music ("Music for Airports" et al);
- Songwriting (This quote seems to sum up at least some of what he was saying about this: "... if you think of a piece of music like a landscape, you’re free to think what you want about it; it’s about you, the listener. But as soon a figure appears in that landscape [the singer, for example], that figure becomes the center of attention and directs your thoughts. No longer is the music about the listener, but about the composer [or the singer, presumably].")
- The Portsmouth Sinfonia in which he "played" the clarinet;
- The "Oblique Strategies" cards
Some sites with more info about Eno:
- the BBC music and wikipedia sites: good starting points;
- the "Independent on Sunday"'s 50th birthday tribute: interesting, detailed but readable;
- the "official" Enoweb site - extensive (often huge) lists of his recordings, interviews and books about him and his work.