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Bloom: 10 Worlds – more generative ambience from Brian Eno

World-famous ambient composer adds to his suite of generative music software

Price: $8/£8
Version: 1.0
Size: 75 MB
Seller: Opal limited
Platform: iPhone / iPad

BLOOM: 10 Worlds

Update! We’re revisiting Bloom: 10 Worlds a couple years after its initial release. While only a single update of bug fixes has been made since, Bloom: 10 Worlds feels more special than ever.

So what’s new? The devs have fixed an Airplay issue and tweaked it so the register of notes is more refined, but really, it’s no surprising the app stands still in terms of its offering. The original Bloom was released 10 years prior to this, so we shouldn’t expect much more from the Eno/Chilvers pairing for a good while yet. However, with the arrival of new tools for offering users apps and games such as Apple Arcade, and a pandemic-induced stay at home period which has changed the way people have lived and worked, Bloom feels gloriously constant. And it could prove valuable for those finding themselves working at home more and needing to find new ways to concentrate. Creating your own generative music could be a new hobby, a new work tool, or simply something you never found the time to delve into before. Bloom is still great – give it a shot.

Revised rating: Same as it ever was. ★★★★


Our original review, written in December 2018, is presented in its entirety below.

Renowned musician Brian Eno and musician/software designer Peter Chilvers have released a new and hugely expanded version of their classic generative music app, Bloom.

In Bloom: 10 Worlds, users are able to make a range of ambient and never-ending music with just their fingertips.

There are 10 worlds to choose from

The app follows on from the original Bloom which was first released on the iPhone 10 years ago and though it doesn’t signal a vast leap in generative music – a term Eno popularised himself, to mean music that is ever-different and changing – it offers a significant addition in sounds based on its predecessor.

The first world is modeled on the original app – simply tap the screen

Because where Bloom presented a single soundscape to play with, the new edition builds on this tenfold, providing a full ten worlds to explore. However, the app retains a frustrating issue – while it can happily “play itself” without user interaction, much like when you watch YouTube videos, if you close the app, the music stops.

Wild patterns and similarly wild sounds can be created

This means that despite the endless music and soundscapes it creates that can be lovely and relaxing, you can’t very easily leave it in the background and forget about it – unless you’re happy to leave your device unlocked with the screen on and draining battery.

The developers explain this away by saying it’s just as much as a piece of artwork as it is a piece of music, therefore visual participation is required. We’d say that’s a little stuffy. While the visuals are really great, and are a particular expansion on the original, giving users the ability to use their fingers to make new sounds and visuals at the same time, the ability to enjoy them separately seems like a reasonable compromise for an app with an $8 price tag.

New shapes and visuals have been added in this update

Especially considering there’s an option that allows the app to play itself (with your occasional input if you’d like).

This itself is a very nice touch and allows a little more passivity, but it’d be cool if you could easily switch between the worlds so it felt more like you were listening to a series of songs or pieces of music. This is essentially an interactive album, but we’d love the ability to tone down the interaction and listen to a version of each track in turn without additional input.

It can get pretty retro at times…

Alas, the full experience is generally required unless you’re fine leaving your screen to illuminate itself for extended periods of times. But all that’s not to say the entire experience isn’t entirely wonderful. We got lost for a significant amount of time getting creating our own ambiance, and thankfully the musical aspect of this app is excellent.

The fact remains that Bloom: 10 Worlds is an incredibly easy app to use and can be fun across all ages – it may even introduce a number of new people to ambient music and the work of Brian Eno. And the visuals are art; from simple monochrome colors to trippy as you like psychedelics, there’s plenty to explore here.

If you were mesmerized by the original a decade ago, this is much more of the same and you’re sure to love it. Twice the price of the original for ten times the tracks is good value, too, and much less than buying an album on vinyl. Just be aware of the limitations of the listening experience before you commit.