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4.5 out of 5 stars
Ambient 4/On Land
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2008
If you have just stumbled across the now classic Eno Ambient series and were wondering which one to try, look no further. I own 10 Eno discs and to me this is the most evocative and engaging. The album created a feeling of growth and emergence right from the opening track, 'Lizard Point'.

Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960 is my favourite painting a picture of romantic, nostalgic euphoric recall from an event real or imaginary.

This disc is as engaging or as 'background' as you want it to be and to achieve that took real genius from Eno. Buy it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
After studying a music degree at University, I soon discovered that one of my lecturers had actually met Brian Eno on several occasions. "Whats he like?" - possibly the most unoriginal question that I could come up with at the graduation party. The response? "Well... He's nuts!".

Its something that has stuck with me as it ideally sums up the nature of being creative - being one of the 'crazy' ones who is not afraid to think out-the-box. Upon listening to Eno's work though, this won't always be apparent as a good majority of his catalogue makes for an easy, understandable pleasure of listening. And then we do indeed arrive at the crazy ones, just like 'On Land', Volume 4 of his Ambient series. From that first listen, the term 'Ambient' will immediately broaden your perception of how music can alter your perception of time and space. Some will often associate 'ambient' with New Age, but the wonderful thing about 'On Land' (and many other Eno albums) is that they preceded this era. They were, in all respects, the original works that broke new ground.

'On Land' is different to other favourites such as 'Apollo' and 'Music For Airports' in that it doesn't shape are narrative or story. For this reason, the listener is encouraged to deconstruct the quite amazing sounds present and reform them at their own will. At this point, the cover art to the album begins to make some sense. The lonely, sparsely-celled creatures are a part of a time and space that may or may not exist. Does Eno refer in his music to the evolution of Earth's creatures? Conversely, is he looking ahead into the future? The choice is yours, but for whichever you pick, the lush, progressive arrangements that include - but not limited to - well worked synthesisers and distorted guitar phrases will swim around your head.

This album won't be to everyones taste however. Once you strip the personal affinity for particular sounds and the technical achievements involved, it is a piece of work that - in a literal sense - evokes dark and unsettling moods. 'Shadow' stands out as the track that could well embrace or alienate the listener, for its tribalistic vocal arrangements are not for the feint hearted as they resonate mystery and spiritual awareness. This could well be a theme for the entire album itself, but every song has individual attributes that feed the imagination into a world of disenchantment and organic progression.

For the sake of listening to a bit of Eno now and again, 'On Land' won't always top my list as being the most instantly listenable piece of work, but it remains a wondrous album that, for sure, is saturated in sounds and arrangements you didn't think even existed. On that basis, the irony of the album title is that Eno never tells us what 'Land' we are on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2011
This is not an in-depth review of each track. It is merely a warning to those who may be expecting a pleasant ambient experience...

Ambient 4 is what is commonly referred to as "Dark Ambient". That is, the atmosphere and music is not "easy listening". There are tracks here which will unsettle you and make you feel uncomfortable. This album is not designed for you to chill out.

This may all sound very negative, but I'm only giving newcomers to Eno this warning as I imagine a lot of people expect Eno to be nothing more than "Music For Airports" style ethereal ambience.

Ambient 4 is my favourite of the series, and perhaps my favourite Eno album of all. I highly recommend it.

Just be ready to go to the dark side...
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2005
Like the man (top 10 reviewer) says, this is something special. This is Eno's finest example of ambient, which he invented. Rebelling against the music everywhere, the "used to sell strategy" enlisted by those wanting to sell us things we don't even know if we want. These sounds are not designed to wrap you in cotton wool but to enable you to take yourself somewhere. It's a trip without the side effects, put it on headphones or fill a room and just sit there. Each listen will be different, you will drift off and you will find yourself along some pathway that makes the sounds irrelevant. It is an aid to thinking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mood music aimed at those who want to delve within rather than just skim around on life's surface. A precusor to Lustmord who take a deeper step into the basement of personal horror, this drifts on currents and eddies into silent cataclysmic worlds. Alternatively the music is preparation for the final journey into an inner space. Similar to Vangelis work on Blade Runner for those in Time's Arrow making the journey backwards to the source of the innovation.

An offshoot of the Berlin period Bowie and the earlier Ambient Eno innovation where the Bowie side 2 plundered into a sonic short wave synth sine then dived into ice cold tundras of cumulative layers of isolation. These are much more febrile as the soundscape shimmers and ripples before beaming out silent echoes of memories and voices. There is a warmth to these pieces.

This launched a thousand copies of mood music usually purchased in tandem with packets of incense and a self help book based on NLP. Skip the middle men and place this in the CD slot, then count to 3 and recline into a more mature imaginary world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2010
Eno takes an ambient glimpse into times and places that must have significance for him. The pieces are of medium length--no 20-minute slow developing or short snippets. The times and places seem real and feel real--atmospheric yet dark with nostalgic overtones: Dunwich Beach 1960 evokes the images of a desolate Suffolk coastline--the music lives up to the titles. Not as integrated or focused as some Eno creations, but htis does not detract.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2001
Eno's fourth album in the ambient quartet is by far the strongest. There's a brooding edginess about tracks like "Tal Coat" and "Lizard Point", the music is almost fluid and washes over you. This emphasizes a dream like quality. You should really listen to this album in conjunction with Ambient #1.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 26 December 2004
The on-going series of Eno-reissues in 2004/5 is an absolute treat possibly only rivalled by a similar set of reissues/remasters from Krautrock-legends Can. Ambient 4: On Land could easily be my favourite Eno-record, though considering he's involved with several all-time favourite records (Another Green World, For Your Pleasure, Here Come the Warm Jets, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Remain in Light, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, Music for Airports, Low...)it's not empirical data! This is music for those nights, or when the world has ended and you are the sole occupant- which is perhaps why 'The Lost Day' was used in recent Romero-rip-off '28 Days Later'?
'On Land' returns to the ambient climes established by Music for Airports/Music for Films/Plateaux of Mirrors - though the roots a suggested by Eno's revised sleevenotes from 1986 were always in 1975's classic 'Another Green World' : "On that record I became aware of setting each piece within its own particular landscape and allowing the mood of that landscape to determine the kinds of activity that could occur..." The chief-influences, apart from the all-encompassing sound-drift of songs like 'In Dark Trees' & 'St Elmo's Fire', were Fellini's 'Amarcord' (which has been recently reissued on DVD & is translated as 'I Remember'- memory is significant here, look at the definite title of the final track!) and the Duke Ellington-elegy 'He Loved Him Madly' from Miles Davis' 'Get Up With It.'
These instrumentals just flow, and more gorgeously with the remastering process which the back catalogue most definitely benefits from (now sounds as good as the original vinyl listened to on drugs, reclined on a psychiatrist's couch: don't ask!). Words that suggest worlds like 'opaque', 'otherworldly', 'swellmapped' & other compounded-post-Joycean words could be used (we'll leave cliches like sonic-cathedrals behind...). 'On Land' fits alongside key records like 'Rock Bottom,' 'Curved Air' & 'The Room', composers like Reich and Glass, and precedes later ambient joys such as 'Music Has the Right to Children' (Boards of Canada), 'Plight & Premonition' (Sylvian & Czukay) & 'Selected Ambient Works II' (The Aphex Twin). It's that night-time music, file next to 'The Marble Index,' 'In a Silent Way', 'Spirit of Eden', 'Star Sailor', 'Floating in the Night', 'The Serpent's Egg' et al...
It's all a highlight, made more so by the contributions of guests such as Jon Hassell (on 'Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960'- very much the missing link between 'Power Spot' & 'Brilliant Trees') and Bill Laswell (on 'Shadow'). There was also 'encouragement and suggestions' from Harold Budd, Daniel Lanois and the late Robert Quine. 'On Land' is a key ambient album and more wonderful than it ever was: load onto thy i-pod and sink into soundscape-marshes via those oblique strategies...
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on 17 December 2011
This is my favourite Eno "ambient" album - gentle soundscapes perfectly describing the titles (not just randomly named like some pople do!). The remastering simply helps lift each individual sound channel, nothing else has been changed or fiddled with.

Eno may have defined the genre of Ambient and New Age but he certainly wasn't the pioneer he imagines himself to be. Late 60s psychedelic artists like Pink Floyd were experimenting with mood electronics (More and Zabriskie Point OSTs), Ligeti and Stockhausen were doing stuff with voices on loops (it was called Classical simply because it was a real choir), and the whole Krautrock movement had spawned a generation of soundscape artists like Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. Eno just did the same thing in his own inimicable way, using trademark sounds and compositional structures - as this beautiful album clearly demonstrates.
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on 28 December 2012
I bought this on LP many years ago in a Library sale for 50p, and even though the LP was scratched with significant surface noise I thought it quite interesting. I had not played it for a long time (I no longer have a record player) but when I saw the CD on Amazon for under £5 I decided to buy it.

Hearing it agin but without all the extranious noises on the old LP it blew my away, it is so atmospheric. I don't know Lizard Point, Lantern Marsh, Leek Hills, or any of the other places named, but listening to these tracks you get a feeling of wide open spaces and of undisturbed nature.

Don't buy this album if you want big tunes or dance rhythms, but if you want genuine ambient sounds that transport you to evocative places this is for you.

I have several of Brian Eno's Ambient Albums, but for me this is by far the best.
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