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Brian Eno - Small Craft on a Milk Sea CD (album) cover

SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA

Brian Eno

 

Progressive Electronic

3.89 | 62 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Brian Eno's year 2010 album, produced in collaboration with guitarist / programmer Leo Abrahams, is far too rich to be dismissed as the usual quasi-New Age tranquilizer. The music has more melodic interest than his strictly minimalist sound installations ("Neroli"; "Thursday Afternoon"), and reveals a larger sense of overall structure, moving from romantic tone poetry to harsh, almost industrial agitation and back again.

Not unlike other Eno albums it works like a series of possible soundtracks to never made films. But don't be too lulled by the ethereal beauty of the album opener "Emerald and Lime", or the subtle, evocative tension of the title track. Soon enough the music is working up a good head of cyberpunk steam (in "Flint March"), and in "2 Forms of Anger" shows a level of aggression not heard on a Brian Eno album since the days of "Blank Frank" and "Baby's On Fire".

My only complaint is that the music isn't allowed enough time to fully develop. The brevity of each selection (only two of the fifteen total tracks break the four-minute mark) suggests a collection of unfinished sketches rather than a complete canvas. Instrumental music of this sort needs plenty of space to grow, in order to conjure the proper response of cosmic bliss or hypnotic unease. Which is why the almost eight-minute album closer "Anthropocene" is so effective, more so than anything else on the album, building fragile layers of near-subliminal melody over something resembling a 21st century update of Eno's 1978 ambient classic "Music For Airports".

It might not be possible to get a full understanding of the artist's intensions, because the album exists in so many formats (standard CD; special editions; and so forth), each with a different sequence of tracks. But, whatever its configuration, the effort reaffirms Eno's status as arguably the finest sound sculptor of the last half century.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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