Dedicated to the late, great avant-garde composer Harold Budd, and the result of eight years of collaboration between ambient auteurs William Basinski and Janek Schaefer, …on reflection is an intriguing prospect.
The album seemingly could have been recorded and released at any point in time since Brian Eno pioneered modern ambient music in the late 70s. It’s as non-threatening as the genre gets: five barely-there songs floating across a 42-minute running time with all the energy of dust motes sighing their way round a wooden floor on a sun-dappled morning. It’s a collection of songs that demands next to nothing of the listener. And yet, it’s a beguiling piece of work that, like all the best ambient music – say, Eno’s On Land, Pop by GAS, and Budd’s own The Pavilion of Dreams – deftly maps out its own unique sonic terrain.
Comprised largely of limpid, lapping pianos, elegiac tape hiss and the occasional interlude from the world beyond Schaefer and Basinski’s hard drives (early morning birdsong on …on reflection (five), the trundle of a car receding into the distance on …on reflection (two), the LP dares to remain static, largely unvarying in tone and timbre. The result is a pellucid reminder that sometimes the wheel works and doesn’t need reinventing. That it is simply enough to give an audience the gorgeous, weightless sounds they expected.