For Our Consideration: New-age music lives on as long as our need to disengage does
Pictured in the liner notes for Brian Eno’s 1985 ambient piece Thursday Afternoon is a lined paper that scrupulously diagrams the song structure. The page shows a series of rows of timelines, each one surrounded by Eno’s penciled-in notes, chronicling the flow of the self-titled and sole song on this album: “Hints of shimmer” it reads in the second row of Eno’s notes; “increasing density” it reads in the fourth. Although this isn’t traditional sheet music (Eno, in his unorthodoxy, didn’t even know how to read sheet music), these instructions helped prepare such a graceful-sounding installation of ambient music—and it all may seem like a lot for an hour-long drone on a G note.
Thursday Afternoon may have a calming effect, but its artistic message isn’t straightforward: The combination of familiarity (the title is a day of the week, a time …