In high school I had a weird ritual where I would listen to this suite while I did my math homework. But it sort of makes sense because Brian Eno wanted this music to reduce tension. He conceived it while observing the stress and rush at a German airport during the mid-1970s. And it really works.
The composition uses tape loops of different lengths to be repetitive and relaxing while still introducing new ideas and musical thoughts to move the piece forward. Eno also uses fades and clumping to introduce the different instrumental tracks in new ways once we've initially heard them. Talking about a section of tape with two pianos, Eno told Downbeat in 1979 that, "To make a piece of music out of it, I cut that part out, made a stereo loop on the 24-track, then I discovered I liked it best at half speed, so the instruments sounded very soft, and the whole movement was very slow." It's interesting to think that while it all sounds so smooth and placid, there's really a lot of technical manipulation going on to make the piece sound so serene. [Amazon, iTunes, Spotify]