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Brian Eno - Drums Between the Bells (with Rick Holland) CD (album) cover

DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS (WITH RICK HOLLAND)

Brian Eno

 

Progressive Electronic

3.76 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars On his latest (to date) album the tireless Brian Eno continues to flex an inquisitive ear toward breaking trends in technology and music, as always staying one step ahead of expectations. You can trace a web of links to other likeminded musical trailblazers: Laurie Anderson; Björk; Thom Yorke of Radiohead (to name just a few of the more familiar techno- geeks), but Eno the ambient godfather isn't ready to pass his torch to the next generation just yet.

A word of caution, however. To best appreciate his latest effort you might need to develop a palate for spoken word poetry. The album takes the opaque narratives of writer Rick Holland and places them against a backdrop of quintessential Eno soundscapes: lush synthetic keyboards; critical beats; ambience up the wazoo, and so forth.

Some of the selections (almost) resemble actual songs ("Bless This Space"; "Cloud 4"; "Dow"), suggesting a post-modern update of the same quirky, off-kilter spirit that animated Eno's earliest solo albums back in the 1970s. But for the new millennium he's developed a form of pop music as it might have been imagined (and sung) by Stanley Kubrick's HAL 9000 computer: as much programmed as it is performed, and truly progressive in the way it forces the listener to rethink basic notions about the nature of songwriting (...Brian...I'm afraid...My mind is going...)

And that's just on the more accessible tracks. Most of the album is more like a truly inscrutable poetry reading set to music: the 21st century equivalent of a Beatnik Happening, and often obscure enough to befuddle even a kindred artiste like David Sylvian. At least one example has a title longer than the track itself ("As If Your Eyes Were Partly Closed As If You Honed the Swirl Within Them and Offered Me the World"); another, simply called "Silence", is exactly that: 58 seconds of dead air, given its own index on the CD track list.

It may sound more than a bit arty and esoteric today. But, for better or worse, this is a (hopefully) higher caliber preview of what popular music will be evolving toward over the next fifty years: fractured, antiseptic, autotuned to ubiquitous excess, and every track brief enough to accommodate our computer-damaged attention spans. No one ever accused Brian Eno of not thinking forward.

[Consumer postscript: some versions of the album include a second disc of the same music, minus the poetry. I can see how more cautious fans might prefer the instrumental disc, but odd as it may seem the album probably works better as originally intended, words (I almost wrote 'warts') and all...otherwise it's just a three-star extension of Eno's ongoing cycle of Music for Films.]

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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