A studio artifact full of riffs

When art meets science


Who: Darryl Cressman, philosopher at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Album: Here Come the Warm Jets, Brian Eno

Target group: philosophy students

“This album is a studio artifact: it can never be performed live. For example, on one track, Eno uses riff over riff over riff, layering all the sounds. You can only reenact that on stage if you have a line of guitarists, all playing exactly the same thing”, says the philosopher Darryl Cressman of Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets. “It was a big change in Western musical culture. Before the 1960s the score was the definitive version of music: when that was ready, the composition was finished. After the development of multi-track recording, it was the album; this was when people started using the studio as a compositional tool. Today this continues, with many bands making their compositions on a laptop. It makes you wonder about the relationship between live music and recorded music.”

Here Come the Warm Jets is the debut solo album of Brian Eno, a former member of Roxy Music. Eno is known for his collaboration with David Bowie, and for making the six-second start-up sound for Windows 95. Reviews describe Here Come the Warm Jets as a combination of glam rock and art rock with avant-garde influences. “I think at the time people would have called it new wave (like Talking Heads). I heard it for the first time when I was driving in a car in my home country of Canada. I thought it was so interesting. It grabs you with its riffs and hooks. The sounds are densely layered and he uses the stereo really cleverly: you’ll hear different things in the right and left boxes. I feel it’s timeless. It doesn’t sound old like classic rock like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones do. That’s a commendable thing to accomplish.”

So why should students listen to this album? “It will introduce them to new sounds. There are things you’ll recognise and things that are new. That tension between old and new is very interesting for philosophers; recognising the tension between what is and what could be. Music is a powerful tool to get you thinking about possibilities.” Which can be helpful when writing an essay. “I think music can help you when you’re writing or reading. I always listen to music. When I’m working it’s usually instrumental because I focus on the lyrics too much otherwise, but as you can’t understand Eno’s lyrics, this album works too. Sometimes when I’m reading, the music even corresponds with the text: I reach the climax of the story at the same time the music does.”


In this column, lecturers recommend art that throws a different light on a subject field than textbooks do

A studio artifact full of riffs
Author: Cleo Freriks

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