Roger And Brian Eno's First Album Together Comes At The Perfect Time

Mar 31, 2020
Originally published on April 1, 2020 12:07 pm

Roger and Brian Eno's album Mixing Colours offers something unusual in these high-anxiety news days: The spacious, inviting, uncomplicated sound of tranquility.

The brothers are both keyboardists and composers with an interest in musical technology, but Mixing Colours is their first release as a duo. Starting in 2005, they began a low-key and private collaboration via email: Roger sent files of his tunes to Brian, who would then add atmospheres. Eventually, they decided to share some of those songs as Mixing Colours.

The brothers Eno have explored these waters separately for decades. Brian Eno, who is older, is revered as a producer and conceptualist. In the liner notes for his groundbreaking 1978 work Music For Airports, he wrote that his goal was to create music that would "induce calm and a space to think." That's exactly what's up here on these 18 short pieces named for different colors.

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Roger, the younger of the two, has recorded spare, ambient keyboard albums of his own, and has contributed to the soundtracks of Dune and Trainspotting, among other films. The melodies he wrote for this project invite and encourage contemplation. Some of them feel like they wandered in from a less hectic century; there are traces of Schubert's late piano music, and the miniatures of Erik Satie.

With their open expanses and celestial synthesizer textures, these pieces might typically be dismissed as fancy spa music, but they've taken on a different resonance this week. For me, they've offered a kind of sanctuary, a steadying sound in the age of social distance, soothing and transfixing at the same time.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In 2005, Brian and Roger Eno began sending each other song ideas over email. They had been making music for years, but never together as brothers. Well, 15 years later, that collaboration is now complete in the form of a new album called "Mixing Colours." Our reviewer Tom Moon says it's like a much-needed deep breath and the perfect sound for the current moment.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Here's something unusual in these high-anxiety news days - the sound of tranquility...

(SOUNDBITE OF ROGER AND BRIAN ENO'S "WINTERGREEN")

MOON: ...Spacious, inviting, uncomplicated.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROGER AND BRIAN ENO'S "WINTERGREEN")

MOON: The brothers Eno have explored these waters for decades. Brian Eno, who is older, is revered as a producer and conceptualist. In the liner notes for his groundbreaking 1978 work "Music For Airports," he wrote that his goal was to create music that would induce calm and a space to think. That's exactly what's up on these short pieces, named for different colors, like "Rose Quartz," "Ultramarine" and this one, "Desert Sand."

(SOUNDBITE OF ROGER AND BRIAN ENO'S "DESERT SAND")

MOON: Brian's younger brother Roger has recorded spare, ambient keyboard albums of his own and has contributed to the soundtracks of "Dune" and "Trainspotting," among other films. The melodies he wrote for this project invite contemplation. There are traces of Schubert's late piano music and the miniatures of Erik Satie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROGER AND BRIAN ENO'S "BURNT UMBER")

MOON: With their open expanses and celestial synthesizer textures, these pieces might typically be dismissed as fancy spa music. For me, they've taken on a different resonance this week, offering a kind of sanctuary, a steadying sound in the age of social distancing, soothing and transfixing at the same time.

KELLY: The new album from Brian and Roger Eno - it's called "Mixing Colours." Our reviewer was Tom Moon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.