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An unsustainable experiment
on 23 September 2003
When asked why he had produced an uninterrupted 61 minute piece of music Eno replied 'Because I can now!', referring of course to the newly created CD technology that allowed him to record a digitally clean piece with exceptionally low frequency passages without any need for interruption.
Thursday Afternoon represents Eno's first foray into what he terms 'holophonic' music, i.e. any section of the piece is representative of the whole, there is no development as such and the sounds, fragments and tonal structure remain the same throughout. The piece was assembled from a number of loops, each repeating at a different rate so that a near-infinite number of variations are allowed to occur.
This is all well and good and there are sufficient new ideas here to make the exercise worthwhile, and indeed one would rightly expect a master theorist like Eno to pull it off, but sadly there simply isn't enough variety in the loops to sustain the interest for an hour. The piece lacks one of Eno’s key tools which is melody. Like or not Eno is a supreme melodicist and it is this which is sorely missed here.
Ultimately, it works fine at a less than ambient level but sadly it is a case of the concept outweighing the final product.