The liner notes to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports (1978) act as a veritable Ambient Manifesto, outlining the philosophy of a genre he developed as an alternative to Muzak, and other background fluff. In the final sentence, he asserted, “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” By that count, Eno’s solo Warp debut, LUX, is his most successful foray into ambient territory in quite some time.
A fluid composition presented in four parts, LUX recalls the aesthetic consistency of other protracted works (namely 1985’s Thursday Afternoon and 1993’s Neroli) while employing the broader tonal palette, and diversified instrumentation (guitar, bass, piano and violin, united by lingering, electronic drones) that defined his Ambient 1-4 series.
The result is a remarkably versatile album, shapeless and unobtrusive enough to float in the background and shade the atmosphere, yet dynamic and mutative enough to reward the scrutiny of active listening. Surely, Eno has a number of stronger albums under his belt, but never has he explored the grey area between “ignorable” and “interesting” so delicately.