Various Artists, SMM: Opiate

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 11.18.13 in Reviews

In an interview with The Believer a couple years back, Brian Eno explained how his ambient work — definitive albums like Music For Airports and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks — was inspired by everything from Erik Satie to Phil Spector. The latter’s painterly approach to pop music was particularly eye-opening, as it showed Eno the ways in which “sound had become a malleable material…music that was less linear and more immersive: music you lived inside.”

Expertly curated exclusives that color the mood of every room

The second entry in Ghostly’s SMM series follows suit with the first by doing just that: sharing nine expertly curated exclusives that color the mood of every room. More than just mere sonic wallpaper, these are set pieces, some subtle (Celer’s “Nothing So Mystical” and Fieldhead’s “37th” both infuse the air like monochromatic art installations) and some not-so-much (En’s “White” is actually quite colorful, merging a zig-zagging zither with the kind of transcendent drone tones Emeralds once excelled at). Then there are the outliers, like the scrambled radio broadcasts of Jim Haynes, the secular hymnals of Black Swan, and the bug-bitten bass lines of Pjusk, which sound like something a wild-eyed Trent Reznor used to bring his blood pressure down in the early ’90s.

Or as Eno later said, “Perhaps when music has been shouting for so long, a quieter voice seems attractive.” Attractive and essential.