Album Review: Roger Eno and Brian Eno – Mixing Colours

Brian is unarguably the better known of the Eno brothers, mainly for his metamorphosis from priapic glam-peacock synth boffin to visionary producer and ambient music pioneer. Roger though has discreetly carved out a career as a creator of instrumental music with an impressive back-catalogue of over thirty albums.

This album isn’t the first time the siblings have worked together (they collaborated on 1983’s NASA commissioned ‘Apollo’, amongst others), but it’s the first where they share equal billing as a duo. It’s the result of a fifteen year back-and-forth sharing of aural sketches, done without a clear finished project in mind, but evolving into a full album as the pieces accumulated.

Each of the eighteen tracks are named after or associated with colours, with titles like ‘Desert Sand’, ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Celeste’. As you might expect, these pieces are atmospheric, dreamlike and unintrusive. Brian’s ambient work has often explored this idea of music being the opposite of “wham, bam thank you ma’am”, the changes occurring so slowly they’re perceived rather than heard. Roger’s work has probably skirted more toward atmospheric conventional compositions.

So, the combined result is firmly in the ambient tradition they both helped to create. Talking about individual tracks seems unnecessary, as the feeling seems to be one of a sensorial whole. But within you’ll find echo-laden pianos, percussive bells, church organs, and a wealth of ethereal sonic cathedrals from the arsenal of two masters in the field.

Mixing Colours is out now on Deutsche Grammophon

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