Godfather of Ambient Creates iPhone App

Seemingly not content with having fathered an entire musical genre, pioneered generative music, produced U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name, collaborated with Bowie and generally rubbed-shoulders with a raft of modern music legends, Brian Eno has now released his first iPhone app dubbed Bloom ($3.99).

Developed by Peter Chilvers, in collaboration with Eno, the app is described as, “Part instrument, part composition and part artwork…” The idea is that anybody can play with Bloom and coax gentle melodies and ambient soundscapes out of their iPhone.  Having downloaded the app, plugged a pair of speakers in to my iPhone and cranked up the volume, it took only a few moments to compose an authentic ambient piece that sounded like a convincing out-take from Eno’s Music for Airports.  It works and it is a joy to toy with.

Being a sound-based app, the screenshots on the store do it absolutely no justice, Bloom ends up looking somewhat staid.  It’s in hearing Bloom and experiencing the ambience that it creates, that you truly understand how magical it is.  According to the App Store product page, “… Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen.”  Setting aside the marketing spiel, Bloom is utterly unique — a truly enchanting experience, like nothing else I have experienced on the iPhone, this is an app that will make you smile.

Those familiar with Eno will have seen this app coming a mile off — he’s always been keen to exploit the latest technologies and platforms for his artworks, all the way back to creating Mac-compatible Media Art distributed on CD-ROMs. These days there are several Eno-inspired tools and toys available on Apple platforms.

Oblique Dashboard Widget Arty folk with a bit of a creative block may want to check out Oblique Strategies. Originally developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt as a deck of cards, each card features obtuse, odd and frequently stimulating tidbits of advice to re-energise the flow of creative juices; favorites include, “Not building a wall, making a brick,” and, “Move towards the unimportant.” The virtual Oblique Strategies decks are available both in widget flavor and iPhone/touch app flavor, for free.

Back on the desktop, TAB readers inspired by the ambient experiences offered in Bloom should investigate the joys of generative music a little further. For his seminal ambient album Generative Music 1, Eno made use of a piece of software called Koan to generate the album. With Koan, you’re able to feed the software a few basic variables and values and it’ll pumps out a piece of unique music at the other end.  The software has long since evolved and is now superseded by Noatikl, available for OS X.