Whether you know him as the keyboardist of glam rockers Roxy Music or as the "Father of Ambient Music" most of you are probably familiar with the name Brian Eno. So, I won't go into too much detail as to the impact this man had on the shape of music, 'cause we all know it was pretty huge.
Jonathan Coleclough on the other hand is a man who, despite his impressive back log, is scarcely known outside of drone nerd communities (As if those exist). His "Sumac" album in collaboration with Andrew chalk is probably the most important drone document ever (In my books anyway. And I promise to re-post that album with a proper review later this month, as I was really drunk when I originally posted it, which is quite obvious by the "review").
I decided to post these together as sort of a compare and contrast as these are both long, sparse piano works that are sonically similar in terms of timing and overall structure. They are also both absolutely brilliant.
Thursday Afternoon- 1985
Much like Eno's 1975 masterpiece "Discreet Music," this album acts as a simple yet ever shifting sound scape made possible by phasing individual tracks of acoustic piano and electronically sequenced textures. Thus "the whole piece becomes an unfolding display of unique sonic clusters" (C.S.J. BOFOP taken from album linear notes). Over it's 61 minute duration the listener is lulled by the peppered piano and delicate underlying textures, yet it's phased in such a way that it never falls victim to stagnancy when listened too attentively, but can also provide a non-intrusive atmosphere for your grandparent's dinner party.
It's quite easy to get lost in this album, and then it's suddenly over and you can't believe that a whole hour has gone by. The overall mood is very light/gauzy/ethereal/dream-like, which is the most apparent distinguishing characteristic between "Thursday Afternoon" and "Period". I particularly like the long segments when the piano fades away and all that's left are the vibrating electrons spewing out that dreamy ambient drift.
Thursday Afternoon was originally a video dating back a year before the cd release in 85. It is similar to the album in terms of it's pace and slow shift. Eno described the work as "seven Video Paintings" of Photographer and long-time friend Christine Alicino. The video was made up of a number of effected slow moving images that were presented in vertical format, making it necessary for people to turn their televisions on their side to view it properly. As you can imagine this caused some headaches.
It's also considered the first work prepared specifically for compact disc (cutting edge technology at the time), as it's very quiet moments would have been lost amongst record crackle or tape hiss and it's shear duration would not have been suitable for any format other than cd. I'm not one to take the side of compact discs in a "which is the best music format?" argument, as I prefer cassette and vinyl, but I always make a point of bringing up the Thursday Afternoon complex.
Period - 2001/2
Like Sumac, Period was originally released and intended for a single side of a record, clocking in at a mere 17 minutes in length. In 2002 the 50 minute cd version was released with a 17:39 accompanying remix by Colin Potter titled "Periodic," sounding more like a total reworking than a remix as you can't really distinguish the Bluthner piano that Coleclough handles so gingerly on the original. Incredible none the less. There is also a 2cd version with the second disc containing a reworking of the material by both Coleclough and Potter. I Still haven't heard it though and if anyone has it and wants to send it my way that would be much appreciated.
As I stated earlier the main difference in these two works is the mood. Period is much darker, speckled minor keys are plucked atop hushed low-end throbbing drones as if the piano notes simply ring on forever, giving the work a very organic quality. The Eno piece is very organic as well but the mood sets these sonically similar works on opposite sides of the spectrum. Try to play this at your Grandparents dinner party, I promise it won't go over well. I like to think that Coleclough didn't sequence anything on Period but actually sat behind a piano and played the entire piece, although I can't say for sure. Either way... so good. Now I'll shut up and let the music say the rest.