Brian Eno – Lux (2012)

This is the sound of a leaf, tumbling end over end just above the outstretched grass. The sound you hear in between heartbeats. The sound that clouds make as they move across the sky.

You’ll hear all of that, and more, if you listen closely enough to Lux, Brian Eno’s first solo recording since Another Day On Earth in 2005. It’s a return to the long-form sense of suspended animation that made 1975’s Discreet Music and 1978’s Music For Airports forefathers of the ambient movement nobody knew was coming — and with similarly blissful results.

Lux — issued today on Warp — seems, like those earlier triumphs, as if it will hit in the chest more often than the head, but its roiling emotional undertow is similarly revealed — once you burrow beneath its surface placidity. And the deeper you go on this record, the more you hear. If anything, this album is quieter still, but no less powerful.

Working with impressionistic sounds both contemplative and spacious, Lux forces you to take a breath, to absorb the record, even as your pulse slows. Each of the four tracks here stretches to nearly 20 minutes, meandering with the purposeful inattention of a trickling stream, stopping cold along the flat rocks of a bend in the river bed, then finding its way again.

Over time, the songs merge into one long, very personal narrative, while moving through an ever-more intriguing range of atmospheres — some coldly melancholic (“Lux 1″), some warmly mysterious (“Lux 2″), some boldly triumphal (“Lux 3″), some simply open ended and weightless (“Lux 4″), like completely letting go.

Lux was reportedly inspired by the play of light through the window of Eno’s studio — and, in this way, that makes perfect sense. You’ll find yourself similarly lost in a single moment, in a single shimmery image (for me, it was the leaf, the heartbeat, the cloud), as this album — ambitious, yet personal, specific yet somehow a blank slate for your own sensibility — unfolds in all of its tranquil, undulating glory.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.