The Black Dog: Music For Real Airports (CD, Soma, May 2010)

In which the techno veterans respond to the first record to be explicitly labelled as “ambient”: Brian Eno’s Music For Real Airports. I’m not clear if it’s a response, an homage, or a riposte: Boomkat claim that they “have long had a problem with Eno’s elegiac score to those transient spaces, feeling that modern airport levels of control and pressurised tedium require something more dystopian to reflect their true nature”. If so, they may have missed the point, as Eno’s record was not intended to invoke the sound atmosphere of an airport, but to provide a calming antidote (at least according to a thinly-referenced claim in Wikipedia).

Anyway. Things have moved on the intervening 32 years, and where Music For Airports was made from loops of real instruments and voices, with tape manipulation processes like phasing, here we have the full 21st century kit on display, a seemlessly mixed blend of synthesized and found sounds. They have certainly succeeded in their aim of grubbying things up: where Eno evoked, say, the futurism of Miami’s neon-glow walkways, the Downie and co have a tannoy welcoming us to East Midland’s Airport, and giving us warnings about security documents and not smoking. Not that there aren’t some serene moments, too, with some widescreen string melodies. It has to be said that Music For Real Airports is also not 100% ambient: there are beats on some tracks, real actual beats, if of a pretty rarefied minimal nature.
All in all, it’s a pleasurable and varied listen, and (appropriately enough, perhaps) I do feel like it takes us on a journey. However, I can’t avoid the feeling that The Black Dog in 2010 isn’t as innovative as Eno in 1978.

I bought this from Juno.

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