Brian Eno Launches His Own Radio Station with Hundreds of Unreleased Tracks: Hear Two Programs

Cre­ative Com­mons image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Back in 2013, Bri­an Eno gave a talk at the Red Bull Acad­e­my, the lec­ture series that has host­ed fel­low musi­cians like Tony Vis­con­ti, Deb­bie Har­ry, and Nile Rogers. Asked when he knew a piece of music was fin­ished, Eno let drop that he cur­rent­ly had 200,809 works of unre­leased music. (The actu­al answer though? “When there’s a dead­line”).

Usu­al­ly we have to wait for posthu­mous releas­es to hear such music, like what is cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing now to Prince’s “vault” of music. Eno is not wait­ing. He got the dead­line.

Sonos Radio HD, the music divi­sion of the speak­er and audio sys­tem com­pa­ny, announced last week that Eno has curat­ed a radio sta­tion that will play noth­ing but unre­leased cuts from his five decades of mak­ing music. There’s so much mate­r­i­al, the chance of a lis­ten­er hear­ing a repeat is slim. (Still, the sta­tion promis­es hun­dreds of tracks, not hun­dreds of thou­sands.)

Now, this is not an adver­tise­ment for Sonos, but a heads up that in order to pro­mote “The Light­house,” as Eno has called the radio sta­tion, Sonos has dropped two Eno-led radio shows where he shares just a frac­tion of the unre­leased mate­r­i­al, with a promise of two more episodes to come. One fea­tures an inter­view­er, and the oth­er is just Eno talk­ing about the tracks. (And you *can* get one month free at Sonos if you sign up.)

“(A radio sta­tion) is some­thing I’ve been think­ing about for years and years and years,” says Eno. “And it’s part­ly because I have far too much music in my life. I have so much stuff.”

The tracks have been purged of titles and have been instead giv­en the util­i­tar­i­an monikers of “Light­house Num­ber (X)”. Any­way, titles sug­gest too much thought. “Some are pret­ty crap titles,” he says. “The prob­lem with work­ing on com­put­ers is that you have to give things titles before you’ve actu­al­ly made them…Sometimes the pieces often quick­ly out­grow the titles.”

If you’re expect­ing noth­ing but ambi­ent wash­es and gen­er­a­tive music, you might be sur­prised at the vari­ety. In the first Eno-host­ed show, he plays a funky jam (“Light­house Num­ber 002”) co-com­posed by Peter Chil­vers and stuffed with r’n’b sam­ples; and an almost-com­plet­ed song fea­tur­ing the Eury­th­mics’ Dave Stew­art on gui­tar, called “All the Bloody Fight­ers,” aka “Light­house Num­ber 106”.

Why call it “The Light­house”? “I like the idea of a sort of bea­con call­ing you, telling you some­thing, warn­ing you per­haps, announc­ing some­thing.” He also cred­its a friend who told him his unre­leased music is like ships lost at sea. The light­house “is call­ing in some of those lost ships.”

As a bonus, lis­ten below to Eno’s recent inter­view with Rick Rubin, where they talk about the Sonos project and much more.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Expe­ri­ence a Video Paint­ing of Bri­an Eno’s Thurs­day After­noon That Has Soothed & Relaxed Mil­lions of Peo­ple

Hear Bri­an Eno’s Rarely-Heard Cov­er of the John­ny Cash Clas­sic, “Ring of Fire”

Dis­cov­er the Appre­hen­sion Engine: Bri­an Eno Called It “the Most Ter­ri­fy­ing Musi­cal Instru­ment of All Time”

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (6)
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  • John says:

    Holy crap. I’m total­ly sub­scrib­ing. Enough makes some seri­ous­ly KINO music! ENO is KINO!

  • Anak Rae says:

    Not a com­ment (sor­ry), but a ques­tion: I read about 10 years ago, an inter­view with Mr. Eno where he men­tioned a new term he had cre­at­ed for today’s music. I’ve for­got­ten what that term was and his think­ing behind it. I swear the inter­view was in the New York Times or New York mag­a­zine, but I can’t find it. Does any­one know what I’m talk­ing about?

  • Steve LBMK says:

    Ambi­ent music.
    Bri­an Eno was bed­bound and want­ed to cre­ate music that was not intru­sive.
    Dis­creet Music is a mas­ter­piece.

  • John Ryan says:

    Let me won­der: any out­takes from the clas­sic “song” albums of 1973 — 78?

  • Peter says:


    Ambi­ent music is not what Anak is refer­ring to. I read the same arti­cle and it was about 10 years ago. It was a term he used for mod­ern pop music of this cen­tu­ry. It’s on the tip of my tongue but I’m not remem­ber­ing it.

    Anak, of course, could be think­ing about “gen­er­a­tive” music (which he also coined and dis­cussed in the same arti­cle). “Gen­er­a­tive” music (which he start­ed div­ing into a lit­tle more than a decade ago) is an ever-chang­ing music cre­at­ed by exact sys­tems and “algo­rithms” which, essen­tial­ly, nev­er repeat and, with­out human inter­ac­tion, nev­er ends.

    He coined the term “ambi­ent music” in the ear­ly 70’s. The album Steve is refer­ring to came out in 1975.

  • Lou Rishchynski says:

    Always loved “Music for Air­ports”. I used to fly to/thru O’Hare a lot and always had that on my playlist when I was nego­ti­at­ing my way to my gate. Been lis­ten­ing to “Music for Instal­la­tions” a lot as well. For me it’s a musi­cal ver­sion of CBD. Chills me right out and great to lis­ten to when read­ing.

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