Comparing ambient works to Brian Eno is always problematic. Eno’s work is so responsible for codifying the genre that saying an ambient piece sounds Eno-esque is akin to saying that a classical piece sounds Mozart-esque. Is it a moot point to use these artists as reference points when their names are synonymous with an entire genre of music?
In many instances, the answer to this is question is yes. However, in the case of this excerpt of “Our Silhouette” from Sean McCann’s forthcoming Prelusion LP, there’s an extremely strong case for an Eno comparison.
“Our Silhouette” is composed of gorgeous, sustained synth lines that are punctuated by bursts of melodic piano fragments. This texture alone already calls to mind the ubiquitous Music for Airports, but it’s even more reminiscent of the oft-forgotten Brian Eno/Harold Budd collaborations (even down to the harmonic movement). Of course, this similarity is not a problem, and McCann tastefully handles his materials by giving the track the same muted texturally uniform sheen that we’ve come to know from his many recent recordings.
Despite being recorded (and initially released on a small scale) in 2011, “Our Sihlouette” is very different from many of McCann’s recent recordings. It lacks the lush arrangements of The Capital, the synth spazz of his early recordings, and/or the field recordings of his collaborative work. It instead revels in a deceptive simplicity. Listen closely to “Our Silhouette” and it often becomes hard to tell when/where the acoustic and electronic textures begin and end.
This brings us back to McCann’s “muted sheen.” By creating a largely static texture, McCann allows the listener to lose themselves within the piece. This ability to enter a recording at any time and leave with the same feeling of blissed-out stasis is a concept largely drawn from Eno’s approach to composition but manifested through different means in McCann’s work. All of this puts “Our Silhouette” in the narrow category of pieces truly warranting the term “Eno-esque.”
Prelusion is out March 15 via Root Strata. You can preview “Our Silhouette” below: