Eno & U2 : a freezing creative process

Brian Eno produced a few U2’s albums. I read one day in an interview that he had to restrain these guys’ creativity : they have too many ideas, all the time, and it’s exhausting!

Therefore, as the person in charge, he sometimes has to decide a STOP.

This is what he does, then :

As each musician is recorded on his own track, the freedom is total, which leads to infinite choices. At this time of the composition, Eno decides to pre-mix what he has, freezing the whole song in stereo. Instead of having for example 12 tracks you can move, mix and change all the time, he reduces all the pack in 2 tracks, left and right. From there, nobody can touch it anymore – then he trashes the source.

He transforms, this way, the big tree of possibilities into a “this is how it is now” song.

 

Of course you see it’s a tool : what are the consequences of this? Displacing creativity? (what do they do “from this”?). Is closing inventiveness from here allow people to invent elsewhere? Another thing? When do we need, in our work, to stop inventing and move forward? Why? When do we have too many ideas? What to do? What if you remove an element?

When do you need to have a thinker in charge?

You can also read : Fecundity of Limits

Thanks for reading !

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When a drop becomes a string : REVERB, Part 1

Please listen to this Vangelis “Blade Runner” quiet track :

 

I used to be a composer (a long time ago), and I remember this “Blade Runner” mood : Your track is ready on your Macintosh. It’s the night. You’re alone, quiet. You have a cigarette and you just “hit the spacebar”.

Your pack of “synthétiseurs”, samplers, keyboards and effects is twinkling blinking here and there in your room. And Macintosh plays your music, that’s cool!

“Reverberation, is the persistence of sound after a sound is produced”, says Wikipedia. The page has the good idea to present a simple synth sound with different levels of “reverb”.

You can guess that you have different parameters. The percentage of reverb (you maybe need to keep a part of flat sound) and the length of it. You can guess that a “many seconds” reverb gives you the impression you’re in a cave, or a cathedral.

For my Blade Runner moods I played with 12 seconds reverb, which could never be reached in reality.

In “Against the Sky”, Brian Eno uses the reverb like a character, a ghost of the already reverbed piano. At the end of the track, a quiet golden snake is reverb-floating in the background…

Robert Rich & Steve Roach are like “too much reverb is cool”. Their percs are already like in a cathedral, and they have this pleasure to draw veils of sounds. Yep, New Age music. OK, I let you slowdance a bit…

YouTube their names to check what reverb is 🙂

 

Soil Festivities (Vangelis again) begins with thunder… in reverb. So it’s like you’re sheltered near the entrance of a cave. The whole piece is like a game of sounds (no music seems to really being built here), of creatures evolving in the reverb. Around 6 minutes, listen to the contrast between all notes and the “no reverb” next-to-your-ears bass. He played the same game with choir in the album “Mask”.

I’ll write another article about reverb in pop. Depeche Mode‘s Violator as a perfect example…

Have fun. Have a great 4Th of July!