399

Bang on a Can All-Stars: Brian Eno: Music for Airports (Live)

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Bang on a Can All-Stars: Brian Eno: Music for Airports (Live) When the innovative classical ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars released its version of Ambient music forefather Brian Eno's seminal Music for Airports (Virgin/Astralwerks, 1978) on POINT Music in 1998, it demonstrated how a composition seemingly far removed from the classical sphere could be absorbed into the legitimate canon. And although the studio version is already ten years old, the suite has remained an active part of the group's repertoire, performed as recently as last year at the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York City. With Music for Airports (Live) this unconventional chamber group has delivered a concert rendition of Eno's masterwork to pair with their studio performance; in doing so, clarinetist Evan Ziporyn and BoaC artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe have turned Eno's premeditated artistry into something more interpretive and interactive, albeit in decidedly subtle ways. That Eno created much of this experimental music with loops of varying lengths—the end result being a happy blend of coincidence and confluence—make BoaC's live arrangements all the more intriguing.



Eno's original intent with Music for Airports—and subsequent ambient recordings—was to create music of an almost subliminal nature. It offered listeners a relaxing sonic backdrop, a serene alternative to the stimulating music often played in airports, where stress levels already run high and stimulation is the last thing people need. It was music to be felt, more than heard.



While it's easy to lay back and get lost in BoaC's live performance of the piece's four sections, the group has made the listening experience more actively engaging, especially on Ziporyn's arrangement of "2/2," where there's an improvisational component and a gradual, dramatic build-up that's in understated contrast to Eno's less invasive original. Gordon's painstaking arrangement of the suite's most well-known section, "1/1," combines the ensemble's unorthodox instrumentation—cello, clarinet, guitar, percussion, piano/keyboards and bass—with sampled voices, creating a more expansive (but equally calming) soundscape.



Sampled voices also drive "1/2," but Lang's arrangement introduces the other instruments so gradually that its unhurried unfolding and slowly shifting textures offer surprises without losing the piece's inherently tranquil stasis. Wolfe's reworking of "2/1" make guitar and a variety of chime-like sounds behave in an almost call-and-response fashion.



The differences between BoaC's studio version and this live recording are certainly unobtrusive. With the exception of the improvisatory "2/2," it's more about nuance and delicate interpretation of phrase than vivid, definitive re-creation. But if the studio album proved that Eno's ambient music can could be scored as contemporary chamber music, then Music for Airports (Live) reveals it to be no different than any classical piece that receives multiple readings. The differences in interpretation across the versions may be rarified, but they're genuine differences nonetheless, and make Music for Airports (Live) a worthwhile adjunct to Bang on a Can's fine studio recording.

Music for Airports (Live) is a digital download-only release.


Track Listing: 1/1; 1/2; 2/1; 2/2.

Personnel: Maya Beiser: cello; Evan Ziporyn: clarinets, keyboards/samplers (1); Mark Stewart: guitar; Steven Schick: percussion; Lisa Moore: piano, keyboards; Robert Black: bass.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Cantaloupe Music | Style: Classical


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!" CD/LP/Track Review Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Bring Joy" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Joy
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Brass Tactics" CD/LP/Track Review Brass Tactics
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "Garden 2nd Set" CD/LP/Track Review Garden 2nd Set
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 2, 2016
Read "Starer" CD/LP/Track Review Starer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!