Airport plays Brian Eno 'Music for Airports'

Seminal ambient album installed in terminal to mark its 40th anniversary

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London City Airport is to mark the 40th anniversary of Brian Eno’s visionary album Ambient 1: Music for Airports by playing his influential masterpiece in full, on loop, for the duration of Wednesday 4 April.

The album was first released in March 1978, conceived by Eno as he waited for a flight in Cologne Bonn Airport early one Sunday morning in the mid-1970s, as he recounted in a 1990s interview. Despite the “beautiful building”, the airport played “awful music”, prompting Eno to develop his own creative response in a piece of work suited to public spaces, like airports.

The result was the textured and atmospheric Ambient 1: Music for Airports, recognised as the first coining of the term ‘ambient music’, which as the US album’s sleeve description stated, “is intended to induce calm and a space to think”.

Melanie Burnley, Director of Customer Experience at London City Airport, said:

“The anniversary of Brian Eno’s famous work is an apt occasion to play the full album in its intended environment – an airport.

“It is a subtle album which we hope will help create a calm and pleasant ambiance as passengers make their way through to Departures. Because of the airport’s size and speed, it is possible to get from the front door to departure gate in 20 minutes or less, so they may only hear a snippet.”

Anne-Marie Mcgregor, Head of Music for C-Burn, the airport’s music consultancy, said:

“Eno is a hero amongst our team of music consultants for his belief that music needs to be considered in public spaces and not left to personal tastes or what an algorithm decides. Carefully thought out selections are what's needed to ensure it ‘accommodates many levels of listening’, is a thing of beauty, and something to be proud of.

“With Music for Airports, Eno crafted the sound of being suspended in the universe and created tracks that would make lasting connections which has meant they have stood the test of time and continue to be synonymous with tranquillity, ethereal beauty and calm.”

Ambient 1: Music for Airports followed on from the ambient direction taken by Eno on Another Green World (1975) and Discreet Music (1975), with music that would not interfere with human communication and of significant duration so as not to be affected by interruption from public announcements.

In July 2016, London City Airport became the first UK airport to play music in the passenger security area, and it will be in this part of the airport that the 48-minute long album will be played on continuous loop. The music consultancy C-Burn, which specialises in providing soundtracks for different public venues and spaces, will oversee the temporary sound installation.

London City Airport is the city’s most central airport, in London’s Royal Docks, just five miles from the City of London and close to the dynamic and fast-growing East London. The UK’s most punctual airport is favoured by travellers for its convenient location and unrivalled quick and efficient passenger experience. Currently eleven airlines serve 44 domestic, European and U.S. routes and the airport welcomes over 4.5 million passengers per year.