Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror
The second volume in Brian Eno’s ongoing Ambient series is a collaboration between Eno and avant-garde composer and pianist Harold Budd. For most of the songs, Eno provided a synthesizer-based tape loop, over which Budd would improvise a slow piano melody, lingering on notes that resonated with the given setting. This gives the songs a feeling of total stillness, even as the slow-plucked notes seem to be searching, reaching, exploring. While the ceremonial and introspective notes of Budd’s piano represent the album’s leading voice, its most interesting tracks offer stranger detours. On “Wind in Lonely Fences,” layers of electronic keyboard materialize like the damp mists of a horror movie—only in this musical scenario, the sense of menace commingles with an eerie serenity. Much of the album echoes the poignant and plainspoken compositions of Erik Satie, but certain songs are equally reminiscent of In a Silent Way–era Miles Davis. Traces of jazz also permeate “Not Yet Remembered,” which materializes like the elongated shadow of a forgotten torch song.