From Bowie to Shields: Brain Eno’s 10 finest collaborations

Brian Eno’s work is some of the most highly revered genius of all time. With a stunning solo career to his name, Eno is also a highly praised collaborator and producer.

With a unique knack for breaking creative blockages with Oblique Strategiesand an overwhelming tendency for sonic serenity, Brian Eno has collaborated, created, and produced some unrequited masterpieces over the years.

Here are Brian Eno’s 10 best collaborations of all time.

Brian Eno

We have travelled through the wormhole of sound to give you Brian Eno’s 10 best collaborations from the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

10. Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror – Harold Budd

With the famous avant garde composer on his side, Brian Eno created a magnificent to his famous Ambient series. The Plateaux of Mirror is both an album of rare beauty and transcendental capabilities.

Eno cleverly unleashes Budd’s instincts on piano to achieve a collection of slow melodic lines within ambient soundscapes. It’s a must listen for any Enophile and an overall groundbreaking ambient record.

9. The Weight of History/ Only Once Away My Son – Brian Eno, Kevin Shields

When Kevin Shields and Brian Eno released a double A-side 12″ for Record Store Day, the world was very excited but also pondering the question, “What took them so long?”

The Weight of History/ Only Once Away My Son is a magnificent meeting of the minds. Both artists voices are clearly heard without overriding one another, making for one of the best collabs of recent times. We couldn’t recommend this shoegaze ambience highly enough!

8. The End – Nico

Nico was always strange. Her skyrocketing debut with The Velvet Underground and her solo debut Chelsea Girl only vaguely hinted at her art-rock minimalism to come. 1968s The Marble Index is where Nico’s beauty first truly shone.

Following 197os nihilistic evolution Desertshore, The End provides the perfect blend between 1960s American minimalism and Brian Eno’s ambient albums.

7. Ambient 3: Day of Radiance – Laraaji

In the late 1970s musician-comedian Larry Gordon was in Washington Square Park playing his autoharp. He was in a meditative trance, eyes shut, deeply focused on his performance. When he opened them, Brian Eno was standing there and proposed recording an album. Gordon entered Eno’s studio and came out with Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance and a new name: Laraaji.

The third instalment in Eno’s ambient series, which began with Music For Airports, sees the birth of Laraaji; now one of history’s most formidable ambient composers.

6. Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks – Brian and Roger Eno, Daniel Lanois

Brian Eno has always shined best when transposing his sonic visions of the vastness of space. Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks was a documentary consisting of 35-millimeter footage of the six moon missions, and was of course scored composed by Eno, brother Roger, and guitarist Daniel Lanois.

This longtime favourite of Enophiles is understandably so. Eno’s occasional dissonance and Lanois transparent hazy movements make this a must listen for anyone interested in Eno.

5. Heroes – Bowie, Fripp, Eno

One of David Bowie’s undisputed master works featured two of rock’s most unlikely heroes. Eno called Robert Fripp in 1977 and asked if he wanted to play some ‘hairy rock n’ roll guitar’. Fripp hadn’t played in three years but was willing to take the risk.

The result is an album that embraces both Bowie’s dramatic, combustible instincts and Eno’s unshakable sonic serenity.

4. June 1, 1974 – Kevin Ayers, John Cale, Eno, & Nico

June 1, 1974 is a hidden gem of the highest degree. Often supergroups are a colossal failure of colliding super egos. However, the June 1, 1974 group was unique. It was a collection of avant garde cult heroes performing a one off show for a sold out crowd.

Awkwardly Kevin Ayers was sleeping with John Cale‘s wife Cindy Wells and Cale found out that night, confronting Ayers. The tension can be felt in the album photo which was taken the night of the show. Nonetheless the album is a cult classic, showcasing a fusion of some of rock’s most innovative minds.

3. No Pussyfooting – Fripp & Eno

When Brian Eno and King Crimson‘s Robert Fripp got together in 1973 and recorded No Pussyfooting, they laid the groundwork for their respective careers. Featuring some of Fripp’s finest recorded guitar playing, No Pussyfooting and it’s 1975 sequel, Evening Star, hint at Fripp’s iconic picking techniques and unique standard tuning that revolutionised guitar.

Furthermore, Eno used Revox reel-to-reel tapes as a platform for looping which later became the basis of his Ambient album series and genius motif improvisation.

2. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts – Byrne & Eno

When David Byrne and Brian Eno collaborated in 1981 they created a hallmark for transgressive records and sampled sound. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is about as strange and experimental as albums come. It has no notable ‘songs’ and the sampled speech from religious sources don’t sound as intriguing as they once did.

However, Eno experimenting with a new drum machine and David Byrne‘s audio insanity make for an album largely predicated upon serendipity. In this case the result is a near masterpiece and some of Brian Eno’s finest work.

1. For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music

Roxy Music‘s second album is an art-pop, glam-rock masterpiece. The last entry before Eno set out on his solo career and eternal sound quest, Roxy Music sketch out blueprints for the future of trance, experimental pop and Brian Eno.

With plenty of space for Eno’s deviations, tracks like Bogus Man and bookend For Your Pleasure, meld R&B with high fashion fantasies and avant-garde stylings. However, as Brian and Bryan took off into deep sound space it became clear they were incompatible. Three months after its release Eno left before he could be fired and begun an unparalleled solo career.