Aspects of Eno

As regular attenders of the Late Music concerts will recall, 2018 saw Late Music invite the Delta Saxophone Quartet to deliver a concert to launch their CD ‘Bowie Berlin and Beyond’. To cut a long story short, this CD came about as follows. As a teenager in the 1970’s, I was a big fan of David Bowie. When he released his ‘Berlin’ albums in 1977, I was struck by the extended electronic instrumentals on these albums as these were quite unlike anything I had heard before. Bowie had worked with Eno to create these instrumentals so I became interested in Eno’s own work. This, in turn, led to minimalism, the English Experimental School and the German Krautrock scene. A name that kept coming up was Stockhausen. In due course, I encountered his music and that of his colleagues. I left my job and went to study composition in my mid 20’s.

Many years later – 2011 to be precise – I realised that if Bowie, Eno etc could be a gateway to new music for me, they could for be for others too. I did arrangements of three of the Bowie Berlin instrumentals for the Deltas who premiered them at my Grimsby St Hughs Festival that year. This led, in due course to the above mentioned Delta Bowie CD. It is their most successful CD to date and their launch concert at Late Music is Late Music’s most successful concert to date. The gateway idea is working.

All that being so, the next logical step was to look at Eno himself and that is what Late Music invited me to do for 2019. The multifaceted nature of Eno’s achievements meant that I felt we needed to devote two concerts to his work.  Late Music agreed.

One fascinating aspect of Eno’s work is that, in the 1970’s, he persuaded his record company to let him set up a largely classical music record company of his own called Obscure Records. Ten albums were released featuring composers such as Gavin Bryars, John Adams, Christopher Hobbs, John Cage, Michael Nyman and others.  These composers are largely – though not entirely – connected to the English Experimental School. I felt that Late Music needed to draw attention to this achievement and both concerts heavily feature composers from the ten albums and other comparable ones, notably Satie who is a kind of godfather to the English Experimental School. 

The other aspect is performance of Eno’s own music. Eno gigged and toured in his Roxy Music days in the early 1970’s but came to dislike performing live. By the late 1970’s he had finished with live work – even David Bowie couldn’t persuade him to play on any part of his 1978 world tour which was centred on the Berlin albums they’d done together. This has the perhaps surprising result that much of his best known and most respected work has never been performed live. 

One example is the album he did with Harold Budd in 1978 entitled The Plateaux of Mirror, no part of which, as far as I can ascertain, has ever been performed liveFor 2019, I am doing piano transcriptions of six pieces from this album, Lynette Quek will do the real time electronics sound transformations and Kate Ledger will play the piano parts. Rather than just producing a score, the three of us will ‘workshop’ this using my transcriptions as a starting point. Using digital technology to replicate in concert sounds that were created for an LP in an analogue studio over 40 years ago is certainly an interesting challenge, and we look forward to bringing you the results. 

David Power