By Gustavo Turner
Brian Eno was in town this past weekend to give a lecture illuminating his installation “77 Million Paintings,” currently at the University Art Museum in Cal State Long Beach.
Eno was mostly interested in talking about his general theories of art (with occasional digressions on how the “relentless beauty” of Penelope Cruz, as he would say, “gives him the horn”), but those of us attending the small press conference last Friday were treated to a rare insight into the contents of his iPod:
“I've been listening a lot lately to a box-set called 'Goodbye Babylon' which is 6 CDs of early 20th-century American religious music, black and white music, you know. It's got those Norfolk a cappella quartets and it's got country singers, and there's church services and everything. It's the best compilation I've seen for years. It comes with a fantastic book. I find that so intriguing that I just listen again and again.”
“The only other thing I've been listening to lately with enthusiasm is an English band called Leisure Society, a record called 'Sleeper' [out in the US next month]. Such a beautiful album. It's just such a nice record to listen to.” (A little narcissism might account for this rave review: blind test-listens of an advance copy of Sleeper resulted in many “Another Day on Earth” or “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today” guesses!)
On Sunday, after the lecture he gave at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Center at CSLB, Eno continued this surprisingly candid series of musical endorsements:
“There are certain artists that I would very much like to work with. Meshell Ndegeocello I think is one of the greatest artists. Tony Allen, the drummer [formerly of Fela Kuti's band]. A few other people actually. […] But when I think of who I like to work with, I don't just think of people I like, because there are a lot of people I really like who I think they are doing fine without me and I don't know what I would offer. But it's people I listen to and think, 'I could imagine something that could be done, that only they could do, but they haven't quite thought of it yet.' And that's my sort of criteria for deciding when to work with somebody.”
Eno, however, readily admits he's no up-with-everything music anorak: “I don't listen to that much music, you see, cause if you're making it you can't really listen to it. It gets in the way. The people who listen to most music are graphic designers.”