Roger Eno is the latest artist to perform for NPR’s much-acclaimed ‘Tiny Desk’ concert series. You can watch the footage in full below.
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space. It’s ideal for Roger Eno who performed his ‘Tiny Desk’ set from home.
Eno’s home is part of what once formed an 11th-century abbey called St. Wilmott’s, situated on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk near England’s eastern coast. The bucolic setting mirrors Eno’s quiet, slowly evolving music which, for this Tiny Desk (home) concert, featured five pieces from his new Deutsche Grammophon album The Turning Year.
Eno refers to his process as “decomposing,” taking the time to strip away all nonessentials to finally arrive at something more pure and perhaps more powerful. He opts for quality over quantity. Every note, carefully chosen, seems to have its own pre-eminence. At an old upright piano — with the sustain pedal firmly engaged — Eno tapped out his slender but potent melodies, gently conducting his string players as they floated above and between the notes, providing color and warmth.
While there’s an Erik Satie-inspired Zen quality to “A Place We Once Walked,” with its seesawing rhythm, the feather-light notes of “Something Made Out of Nothing” recall the deep ambient spaces that Eno created with his older brother Brian on their 1983 album Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. In his writing about The Turning Year, Roger Eno says he thinks of these pieces as “a series of short stories or photographs of individual scenes, each containing their own character.”
To close the performance, Eno introduces his two daughters Cecily and Lotti who sing an arrangement of “Bells.” On the album, it’s a typically wistful Eno piece for solo piano, but the harmonizing voices here give the music a lullaby quality — and offer up a taste of what it must be like to make music with the Eno family.