Eno’s experiments with ambient music purportedly trace to the 1970s, when a living room stereo with the volume too low and a broken-legged Eno confined to the couch compelled him to question the distinction between music and the environment in which it’s heard. True or not, the story syncs up neatly with On Land, which combined field recordings from the North English countryside, Honduras, and Ghana with spare instrumentation (that’s a bass guitar on “Lizard Point”) and heavily reconstituted portions of Eno’s back catalog. Eno described On Land as the end result of a process of “composting”—collaging together source materials, mangling them with studio effects, and then feeding everything back into the mixing desk to be mangled once more. It remains the most evocative musical exploration of place ever made.
DID YOU KNOW: “Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960” refers to a once bustling port city in the southeast of England, a site of severe coastal erosion that was gradually subsumed by the North Sea.