Since his first work as a feather-clad glam-rocker in the art-school band Roxy Music in the early 1970s to his latest incarnation as producer of extraordinary “generative” music apps, Eno has been a dynamo of ideas, energy and experiment. He is incredibly prolific. If you look at his discography, it seems as if he must have been working continuously since 1970, as producer, composer and performer (although seldom outside the studio). A pioneer of electronic music, he proved that you didn’t have to be a “musician” to make music. Years ago, Eno tried to get the job title “non-musician” put in his passport.
His own solo stuff is remarkable for its unique sound, its experimental daring and often, its beauty. But Brian Eno is really one of rock’s great collaborators. He’s worked with Bowie, U2, Laurie Anderson, Coldplay, Talking Heads, Robert Fripp, John Cale, James, Sinead O’Connor, etcetera, etcetera, not to mention the film-maker Derek Jarman.
What he provides is inspiration. He creates mood, tone, depth.
Back in the 1970s, Eno created a deck of cards with his friend, the artist Peter Schmidt, called Oblique Strategies. These 115 cards can be used any way you like, of course, but they are particularly useful for unlocking your creativity or getting past a block. Each card has a phrase on it that might set your imagination going.
So I have just drawn one that says: “Look at the order in which you do things.”
Here are some others: “Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency.”
“You are an engineer.”
It’s the same with his apps, such as Scape, which allow you to create your own generative music, that is music that responds to itself. So he provides the tools for you to create.
• How beautiful for a musician to have Neptune and Venus on the angles of his charr. Neptune (music and randomness) is on the DESC, the angle of partnership, and Venus (art, music, beauty and order) is at the very root of Eno’s soul. This is such a sensitive Venus in Cancer and well hidden.
• Eno’s playful approach to music-making is there in the tremendously potent 5th house stellium — Moon-Pluto-Saturn. Moon=soul, Pluto=drive, Saturn=ambition and organisation. This is a powerhouse of energy, like a throbbing energy at the heart of the chart. His soul is driven to create. Donna Cunningham’s points out in her new book on stelliums that they can drive the chart. Usually stelliums include a combo of Mercury, Venus or Sun because these planets are naturally close in the sky, so Eno’s is unusual. This makes it more powerful, especially with Mars, the chart ruler, tugging it forward and Pluto and Saturn at its heart. Apparently, he’s a bit of a workaholic, sleeping in the studio when he’s on the job. That would be Saturn and Pluto then.
• This stellium is on the point of a mini grand trine, connecting to Neptune and Mercury — the planet of communications. Mercury is also in the second house of talent and money, and in domicile in Gemini. Gemini and Mercury also rule siblings and fraternal relations. You can see from his output that it’s based around a kind of fraternal collaboration. What’s more brotherly than being in a band?
• Aries Rising — a pioneer and innovator.
• Electronica — Uranus (the planet of tech) in clever Gemini in the 3rd house of communications and opposing Jupiter in domicile in Sag — that Jupiter is the big audiences.But Eno really didn’t like performing much, so the action (Mars) is down there in the 6th house, the studio.
• But what about all that stuff in Leo and in the 5th? You’d think he’d be desperate to be centre stage with all that Leo. Well he did perform with Roxy music, but he had to wear a really mad costume, a ton of eyeshadow and hide behind the keyboards. In the studio, he is at the centre of the action. You get the feeling with this chart of a cauldron of talent and energy pulled out by Jupiter up in the 9th and crucially by Lilith opposite the Leo stellium. Take a look at Carlos Santana’s chart for a very similar example. He’s another great collaborator, too, of course.
• More Lilith, goddess of the wild. Lilith is at a square to the Jupiter and trines Uranus: Eno is literally wildly innovative. Her dark intensity informs his whole chart and surely drags that Leo energy into the open.
• Sun in Taurus on the cusp of the second — a talent for creating beauty, making it real. It’s often underestimated just what a creative sign Taurus can be. Here it’s also on the cusp of the third house of communications.
• He’s always understood the visual side of rock&roll though. It’s no coincidence that some of the best album art from the 1970s is on Eno covers. That’s that Venus in Cancer again and also the Sun in Taurus.
When I write I often listen to Scape, which creates an ambient noise around me that cuts out distraction and helps me focus.When I’m stuck I pick an Oblique Strategy card. Thanks Brian.