Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Brian Eno - Before And After Science CD (album) cover

BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE

Brian Eno

Progressive Electronic


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars (One star added after more careful consideration!) Follower of the great Another Green World. Seeing the track list now, I think AGW is better after all. I accidentally voted this as my favourite in the forum as I recalled some of the finest songs being here, but there are also some less enjoyable tracks, and when it comes to the short, sound experimentative instrumental beauties, AGW offers much better stuff. I think this is more uneven, but especially for those who like Eno's SONGS it's one of the definitive classics just as well. 'Julie with...' is an ethereal song about a man and a woman "floating on an open sea, the radio is silent, so are we"... Ah, magic! And 'Here He Comes' is a lively, fresh sounding song that makes you feel extremely happy with its somehow surreal lyrics. By the way, a very good selection of Eno's best work - collaborations with e.g. John Cale included - is collected in 3-CD package titled 'Vocal' (which does have also instrumentals).
Report this review (#35076)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars An absolute art rock masterpiece. The first side is an attractive mix of songs, including upbeat songs like Backwater and King's Lead Hat. The entire second side of the album displays a serenity unlike anything in the pop/rock music field, including two songs that I rate amongst the best songs of all time. Julie with... gives the impression of a lazy summer day where time has virtually come to a halt. It is probably the most ambient of any Eno composition outside his pure ambient albums. Simply breathtakingly beautiful. By this river sees Eno supported to great effect by German space music band Cluster in a composition that is pastoral, pensive and atmospheric. After these two absolute highlights, the album ends with two other great songs, the instrumental Through Hollow Lands (dedicated to Harold Budd, and very reminiscent of the eno/Budd cooperations) and the peaceful Spider and I. In my opinion, Eno's best album.
Report this review (#35077)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Sorry but it's too much for me. I just wonder where has gone the talented, visceral part of ENO's music on this one (the magnificent "An other green world"...) this album is simply dull and laughable. It consists of eccentric, heartless, ultimately boring short compositions sung by the very bad, disconcerted Eno's voice. The music is a combination of small-scale glam rock, featuring a sick interest for experimentation. This flash / post rock playing some disorganised, confused and limited music. I really have difficulties to admit that this album is one of his most popular. Nothing positive, dreadfull!!!
Report this review (#38931)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This marks only the second time I've bestowed a five-star rating upon an album here (the first was for Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"). Like that album, this work boasts strong performances, composition, and arrangements. Does this mean that I think less of "Here Come The Warm Jets", "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)", or "Another Green World"? No, I consider them all essential masterpieces of......SOME kind of music (not Progressive Rock). I just picked this one because, since it came last among the four albums, it has the best sound quality! There are plenty of other five-star albums on this site by big names and not-so-big names; I won't review them because everything has been said about them that needs saying. Getting back to the album, it's one of the few I own that I can play anytime, and immediately get on "the same wavelength". It's an album that fills me with euphoria, because it manages to be slightly cynical and guileless at the same time. Eno was definitely channelling the muse during the making of this one.
Report this review (#41346)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
chronosynclas
5 stars While I truly love "Another Green World," I give "Before and After Science" the edge. To some degree, it works better as an LP as side 1 (tracks 1-5) play off on a more energized, frequently frenetic pace while sid 2 (tracks 6-10) are more subdued and may come as close to Ambient Music as vocals can. An added bonuson several tracks is Percy Jones on fretless bass. The Brand X/Tunnels bassist is completely locked in to a funky groove on "Kurt's Rejoinder." Eno's vocals are a seemingly impossible combination of detachment and passion. There is a consistent feeling of dread throughout the album (esp. Backwater, No One Receiving & the last 4 tracks). The first 5 tracks hooked me back in the early 80's when I first heard it. Now the (dis)quieting last 5 tracks completely entrance me. The tracks are gorgeous yet brooding. If we are all doomed, I can't think of a better way to embrace it.
Report this review (#55996)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's one of the many times that I've listened to a magnificent album. Still, this particular one, contains such beauty and magic, hard to find in any other similar album. Similar?, you'll ask. What's similar to Brian Eno's artistic way of thinking. A good question, though I've got the answer: When you close your eyes and think of angels chanting, that's Eno's music. If I had to think of one word that best describes this album's attitude, that would be 'mesmerizing'. This is a mesmerizing piece of ART; yes, art. Still, it's not flawless: 'Through Hollow Lands' doesn't add much, but this is the album's only weak point. I love the rest of it. Before you hate it, think of what the 80s would have sounded like, hadn't been for Eno; that is the man behind the sound of 'Heroes', 'Low', 'Lodger' and the one who wrote the track that gave birth to Joy Division: 'Third Uncle'. And what about this album? 'Backwater' is the first essential 80s track -listen to the keyboards, 'Spider And I' welcomes OMD to the music map and 'King's Lead Hat' is the earliest New Wave track I've listened to. I recommend it. Listen to it without prejudice and I'm sure you'll also find a piece of your self in it.
Report this review (#65337)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably, Eno's best.

"Before and After Science" is the last 'rock' album of BRIAN ENO. After released this album, he changed into ambient stile.

Look at these gorgeous musicians: Robert Flipp (King Crimson), Phil Manzanera (ROXY MUSIC), Percy Jones (BRAND X), Phil Collins (GENESIS), Fred Frith (The best avan-gard guitarist ever), Jaki Liebezeit (CAN), Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius (CLUSTER). I couldn't believe they are all playing together in this album before I listened it.

Side 1 including the work "Kurt's Rejoinder" and "King's Lead Hat". These tunes are experimentary but easy to listen. Side 2 is like ambient stile and one of the most beautiful world he has made.

A must have of any prog fans. Just get it and listen right now.

Report this review (#85079)
Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste De La Salle (aka Eno) embarked on a varied and adventurous solo career after he fell out with Bryan Ferry and left Roxy Music for greener pastures - and he found them, especially with this album. Eno has summoned the talents of lots of famous (at least in the prog world) musicians from Phil Collins to Fred Frith, and even some from the Krautrock scene. The result is just amazing - Side 1 of the record is the more 'pop' oriented side which kicks off with 'No-one Receiving', a funky, avante-pop number with Percy Jones' bubbling Bass playing and PhilCo on the drums, ex- Pink Fairies and Hawkwind's Paul Rudolph also plays Bass and Rhythm Guitar, and Eno creates unusual sounds throughout as only he can do and his voice is polite and enjoyable. 'Backwater' is a sort of boogie type track with Can's Jaki Liebezeit on drums and Rudolph again on Bass - a slightly weaker track. 'Kurt's Rejoinder' is a fast paced number with interesting Bass playing. 'Energy Fools the Magician' is an ambient textured song with Percy Jones' revolutionary Fretless Bass playing. Eno's choice of sounds are unique and original, always are. 'King's Lead Hat' (which actually is an anagram of Talking Heads, whose David Byrne worked with Eno on the percussive 'My Life in a Bush of Ghosts') is an up-tempo poppy song with that experimental edge. The tracks on side 2 veer towards ambient soundscapes and dreamy atmospheres, starting with the care-free, playful 'Here He Comes' which is simple and effective, catchy and mellow, no-one could dislike this track. Now for an all-time favourite Eno track 'Julie With...' a most beautiful, tranquil and serene tune with liquid Bass sounds, floaty keyboards, almost mournful guitar playing and Eno's mild-mannered vocals sung to perfection. Intoxicating. 'By This River' features Roedelius and Moebius (German duo Cluster) and is another soft tune, with a simple progression, beautiful lyrics..."you talk to me, as if from a distance, and I reply with impressions chosen from another time..." totally magic. "Through Hollow Lands' is ambient and mysterious, slow and blissful. Last track 'Spider and I' sounds almost symphonic with majestic poly- synth sounds and accessible melody. 4.5 stars. Worthy of note ; Shirley Williams, who is credited with Time and Brush Timbales is a pseudonym for Robert Wyatt.
Report this review (#89821)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When this album first appeared, Eno himself sounded rather dismissive about it. He seemed to think he'd made a "Spielerei", a commercial album which turned out to be more lightweight than he'd hoped for. Perhaps he assumed his arty collaborations with Cluster and Robert Fripp were the real deal. But whatever he may have thought, BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE has endured, and it has clearly been enjoyed by several generations of listeners who also appreciate John Cale, David Sylvian or Berlin-era Bowie. Perfect dreamy melodies like "By this River" and "Spider and I" have popped up(to great effect) in movie soundtracks. On "Energy Fools the Magician" Eno borrowed half of Brand X and made superb use of those gifted solists. As for singalong ditties such as "Backwater" and "Here He Comes", well, they simply make you feel good - the former because it's so jolly, the latter because it's beautifully melancholic.
Report this review (#100753)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first half of this record is made up mainly of pop-like tunes while the second half consists of mostly ambient songs. Almost like he set it up that way to show his fans the direction he was going with his music in the future. Eno thanks the two guys from CLUSTER in the liner notes as well as David Bowie and Robert Fripp, all for their advise and encouragement.

"No One Receiving" is a funky tune with Phil Collins on drums (and doing a great job), and Eno on vocals, synths and guitar. "Backwater" is too catchy, I can't get it out of my head. It's a funny eighties sounding song with brass and TALKING HEADS like vocals.You know at times I would swear this was recorded in the eighties, but this is 1977. I can't help but think that Eno had a big influence on a lot of eighties pop bands. How cool is it that CAN's Jaki Liebezeit plays drums on this one. "Kurt's Rejoinder" is all about the percusion. "Energy Fools The Magician" is one of my favourites on this record. Fred Frith on modified guitar, with Collins back on drums, Percy Jones on fretless bass, while Eno does his vibes thing. This is a spacey and ambient 2 minute song that is way too short. "King's Lead Hat" is an anagram for TALKING HEADS and yes it sounds like an uptempo TALKING HEADS song. Fripp offers up a guitar solo to end the song, and it sounds like he's playing underwater.

"Here He Comes" is a straight forward mid-paced song with moog and Manzanera on guitar. "Julie With..." is the longest song and also my favourite. It really reminds me of the sound of PINK FLOYD on their "Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn" record. A spacey song with piano and mini-moog. "By This River" was co-written and performed with the two guys from CLUSTER. They would actually record a whole album with Eno and it would be released after this one. This song really reminds me of THE USE OF ASHES from the Netherlands, as does the final song "Spider And I" which is also spacey with a lot of synths. "Through Hollow Lands" has Fred Frith again only this time he's playing cascade guitars.This is a very ambient song with keyboards.The bell is a nice touch. It's cool that Bill MacCormick from QUIET SUN and 801 is playing bass here.

This has really grown on me and deserves a solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#123028)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Eno made a good move in forsaking everything he had done previously and going all ambient. Maybe it was this album that helped him do that. Anyway, "Before And After Science" has got a mix of the eccentro-pop of his earlier solo albums and the ambient stuff he toyed with earlier (and would explore in depth for years to come). The only problem is that while at their best, these two "sides" of Eno are great, but here, he runs aground and it's all medicore at best. Songs like "No One Receiving" and "Kurt's Rejoinder" hearken back to earlier solos albums with some success while "Through Hollow Lands" is more of the ambient stuff, with less success. It's rather uninteresting, really. Eno would do much better ambient work than that. The pop songs are the highlight of the album as they are more interesting. The biggest problem with this album is that is lacks the cohesiveness, specifically found in "Another Green World." That album explored ambient music with a little pop with much better results, mostly because everything flowed, but here everything sounds fractured, like it was just cut and pasted to follow in the footsteps of David Bowie's "Low". If you are a big fan of Eno, go ahead and get this ablum, but don't make it one of your first few Eno purchases. And is it just me, or does "Matte Kudasai" by King Crimson sound a lot like "Julie With..." from this album?

Standout songs: "Backwater," "King's Lead Hat"

Report this review (#125763)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
thellama73
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars This is my favorite of the Eno vocal albums, and I think it perfectly marries his eccentric pop with his tranquil ambient style. The record is basically divided into to sides. The first one showcases quirky rock and pop, verging at times on New Wave and Post Punk. King's Lead Hat is an anagram of Talking Heads, whom Eno had produced, and their influence can be felt as well. Here more than ever, Eno's stream of consciousness approach to writing lyrics shines through, particularly on the bouncy Backwater, probably the catchiest tune on the album. What's remarkable is the underlying simplicity of these songs, yet through their arrangements they become wholly unique. Side two take a different approach, tending towards the contemplative and the ambient. Here He Comes is whimsical and melancholy. "Julie With..." is minimalist and peaceful. The next two tracks seem to get impossibly more laid back and tranquil, giving the impression of slowly drifting off to sleep. Finally, Spider and I closes the album. I consider this to be a perfect song, totally unrivaled in its beauty and serenity. Whenever I am feeling worn out or stressed, this song always makes me feel better. I would rate all of Eno's vocal albums as five star masterpieces, but this one remains my favorite, and anyone who loves music should at least give it a listen, or else risk missing out on something truly wonderful.
Report this review (#130868)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
jammun
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Hmm, seems Eno's been hanging out with the Talking Heads.

Before and After Science jumps right into the funk-punk fray with No One Receiving. The song finds Eno moving further away from the pop-rock that occasionally appeared on his earlier albums and replacing it with more New Wave influenced rhythms. The other immediately noticable difference is how much more sophisticated the production has become. No mellow, minimalist production on No One Receiving.

Backwater and Kings Lead Hat similarly depart from Eno's previous approach. These are all good songs, though I miss the quirkiness of something like Baby's On Fire. Here He Comes has more of an earlier vibe to it; this song, with its chiming guitars, would not have been out of place on Here Come the Warm Jets.

What was Side Two of the LP is more of the ambient or reflective side of Eno.

Julie with... has that Another Green Day atmospheric aura about it: Rhodes piano, synth washes, fretless bass sound. Through Hollow Lands is another meditative piece, whereas Spider and I recalls Taking Tiger Mountain in its majestic chord progressions. Many of the usual suspects are around to play on some of the songs: Phil Collins, Fripp, Manzanera and others less well known in these parts.

Is this amongst the greatest albums ever made? No way. Am I a hapless sucker for this stuff. Yep.

Report this review (#162897)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I never really thought of Brian Eno as a prog musician, despite his appearance on some great prog albums, such as 801 Live, and the many notable proggers who have played on his albums. His sound has always, to me, hovered around new wave and new age. Here he does both, and quite well I might add.

The first half of the album, or side one of the vinyl, was more upbeat. Anchored primarily with some nice bass playing by the great Percy Jones, Eno writes some wonderful lyrics, which work as much for their sound qualities as they do for their meaning, aound some very good songs. But again, the sound for the most part is more new wave than prog. Probably due to Eno's association with The Talking Heads (by the way, try making an anagram of the song King's Lead Hat for some evidence of this). By far, my favorite song on this side, and the whole album, is Kurt's Rejoinder. Jones has the spotlight on this song, and he is fantastic.

The second half is not so spectacular. The songs are much lighter, often too light. Eno's ambient music has never done a thing for me, and much of this side of the album seems to come too close to that portion of his work.

Report this review (#244667)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The last in line of Eno art-rock albums, this release is easy accessible and experimental at the same time. I can understand some don't like it because of openly pop-oriented rhythms and songs structure.

But this album sound like this only from very surface. In real it is a great art to make melodic, attractive music and add such amount of unusual and experimental moments under the skin! Possibly, first impression when listening this album is it sounds a bit similar to Roxy Music,some earlier Eno works and Talking Heads at the same time. Nothing strange - besides of Eno, there are collaborated such significant sound owners as bassists Percy Jones and Bill MacCormick, guitarists Phil Manzanera,Fred Frith and Robert Fripp, drummers Phil Collins (think about Brand X,not Genesis) and Jaki Liebezeit, German electronics masters Hans- Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius between others.

For me this album is kind of missing link between early Roxy Music and Talking Heads, but turned on very experimental direction. Fans of both bands, as well as Eno rock album lovers will obviously find many interesting music there.

Report this review (#310288)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album, along with Peter Gabriel III, changed my music-listening life. Before purchasing and assimilating these albums, my music pallete was still almost exclusively limited to 60's and 70's classic rock and British art-rock/prog rock, with pretty much the only exceptions being late-period albums by groups whose prime output fell into one of those two categories. I had an extreme suspicion of and bias against any music that (a) made extensive use of what I considered "artificial" instrumentation, and (b) used the recording studio as an advanced tool on par in importance with any "real" instruments that might have come into play (believe it or not, it was only after hearing these albums that my appreciation of Sgt. Pepper rose to where it is today; at the time I would have considered it a high ****, tops). After getting into these albums, though, I soon discovered a heavy interest in late 70's New Wave bands, which in turn led to an appreciation of much more 80's music than I'd ever thought I could enjoy, as well as to beginning to appreciate the best aspects of punk, post-punk and other big genres of the 80's and onward. Not only that, but my enjoyment of these also had a large impact on me in terms of helping my appreciation of kinds of 60's and 70's music that I had largely ignored to that point; it is no coincidence, for instance, that my major appreciation of both the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan began after I got into these two albums.

Funnily enough, while I consider this the best of Eno's output (both from his own solo career and from his many many side collaborations), it's also one of the least overtly revolutionary albums he'd do in the 70's (when he was breaking barriers left and right). Side A consists of four up-tempo pop songs that kinda seem like more refined versions of some songs on Tiger Mountain (as well as a short eerie instrumental), and side B consists of four mid-tempo (and slower) folk-pop ballads heavily crossed with some ambient trappings (as well as one full-blown ambient instrumental). Now, I can see where that would put a lot of people off to the album right away; one could very easily shrug one's shoulders after giving this a listen and say something like, "Well, it's ok, but he's not really doing anything radically different from what he's done before." By Eno's standards of breaking ground, I can definitely concede this point; however, by normal standards, these songs (to my ears) only match his previous work in the broadest of categorical strokes. He's not really borrowing any of his previous textures (there's some similarity to his concurrent work on Low and "Heroes", but even then I think it's kinda overstated), and he's definitely not borrowing any of his previous melodies; what more need be demanded?

Ultimately, eight of these ten tracks (ie all except for the instrumentals, which are still terrific) are a small world unto themselves, and what's more is that, against heavily stacked odds, this collection of songs really works as an album, despite the huge disparity between the approaches of sides A and B (why this happens I'll get to later). Side A is cited as disappointing by various reviewers whose opinions I respect, but I can't really understand how or why that should be the case. The opening "No One Receiving" is a little less classic than the other songs on here, and is definitely a less grabbing opener than, say, "Needle in the Camel's Eye," but dismissing it solely as a throwaway attempt at a funk groove just blows my mind. The harsh deconstructionism of the album (the big trick of the entire album is taking fully arranged recordings of the tracks and cutting out layers of the arrangements in unpredictable ways, leading to a sound where basically every instrument has a well-defined 'kick' to it) is in full bloom on this track, and the hypnotic off-kilter drum machine patterns (Phil Collins) mix with the tight rhythm guitar (Paul Rudolph) and double basslines (Rudolph, Percy Jones) in a controlled frenzy that perfectly fits with Eno's (once again) amazing vocal melody and all the nervous guitar plinging and synth grooving he throws in.

"Backwater" is even better, though, with Eno's rhythmic piano gelling with the robotic (in a good way) drums of Jaki Liebezeit (that's right, the Can dude) into the perfect foundation for one of the most brilliantly goofy vocal melodies I've heard in some time. And the lyrics, holy cow; these are some impressive absurdities right here. "There was a senator from Ecuador who talked about a meteor that crashed on a hill in the south of Peru, and was found by a conquistador who took it to the emperor, and he passed it on to a Turkish guru. His daughter was slated for becoming divine. They all taught her, they taught her how to split and define. But if you study the logistics and heuristics of the mystics you will find that their minds rarely move in a line. So, it's much more realistic to abandon such ballistics and resign to be trapped on a leaf in the vine." If I were to ever write an absurdist verse of lyrics, I'd kill to come up with something even a hundredth as inspired as that.

Lessee, then there's "Kurt's Rejoinder," a speedy, rhythmically jerky attack of Dave Mattacks on drums, Percy Jones once more on bass (playing a bunch of killer lines), samples of one Kurt Schwitters blabbering who knows what splattered all over the place, and Brian quickly singing out more of his own brand of insane, paranoid lyrics ("Celebrate the loss of one and all all all and separate the torso from the spine. Burger Bender bouncing like a ball, ball, ball so Burger Bender bargain blender shine."). It's meaningless, but the way he mixes rhyhmes and bizarre alliterations in this track is something that really sucks me in here, and the melody, oh the melody.

A brief respite comes in the brief "Energy Fools the Magician," a two-minute interaction of some crazy basslines (the "Energy") with Eno's synths (the "Magician," I suppose) that sounds just as eerie as one would hope a piece with such a title would sound. And then we hit the climax/conclusion of the first side, one of the greatest songs Eno would ever do in his life; the amazing, phased-to-oblivion rhythmic pounding piano-boogie "rocker" "King's Lead Hat." Cripes, it has Fripp and Manzanera playing on it; how could such a confluence occur on a Brian Eno album without resulting in a rhythmic dream come true? And man, to have this rhythm combined with these dissonant piano poundings combined with this vocal delivery ("Time and motion, time and tide; all I know and all I have is time and time and tide is on my side!") is to create one of the greatest New Wave experiences I could ever imagine in a million years. If, after downloading this song and giving it a couple of listens, you're not totally convinced of the need to get this album (like I was), then you shouldn't go further; Eno is simply not for you.

So that's the first side. The second side, for the most part, is completely different; it's slow, it's moody, and it's sooooo atmospheric that it will be tempting to simply say that Eno is merely replicating the Low/"Heroes" pattern of "first side aggressive, second side passive/ambient." In my mind, that's somewhat true, but I also think he manages to transcend the pattern via the amazing accomplishment of one of the tracks (more on that later). As for the other four tracks on the side, only one isn't jaw-drop-through- the-floor quality, and even that (the five-minute instrumental "Through Hollow Lands") would have been a highlight on both Tiger Mountain and Another Green World. "Julie with ...," then, is a pop ballad that also manages to serve (in my opinion) as validation for Eno's pursuit of that whole Ambient thing, since the AMAZING vocal melody is only the final touch to one of the most brilliantly relaxing and hypnotic pieces I've ever seen. Except for Paul Rudolph's quiet bass, everything in this track comes from Eno's hands, right down to the solitary guitar twangs that seem to pop up at exactly the right times and that pluck my heart strings in just the right ways. And with the vocal melody, as well as the atmospheric lyrics, you have one of the world's only examples of "epic ambient pop ballad," which is just an amazing accomplishment in my eyes.

Up next is "By This River," a collaboration with Cluster that absolutely knocks the snot out of everything on the Cluster and Eno album. What amazes me most about this track is just how still the atmosphere created by this track is; I really feel like it's just me on the banks of a non-drifting river on a windless day, in an atmosphere of complete peace and quiet and security. And the melody, well, it may seem repetitive to keep saying, "This song has such an awesome melody!" but what else can be done? It's amazing what can be done with just a small number of keyboard chords, after all.

After "Through Hollow Lands" comes the album's finale, the grandiose, epic and totally cathartic ballad "Spider and I," which is basically the greatest Syd Barrett ballad that Syd never got the chance to pen before going totally nuts. Of course, Syd likely wouldn't have thought to use such an incredibly perfect set of synth tones, but the way Eno sings the simple vocal melody reminds me so much of Syd at his very very best that it can't help but pull my heartstrings even more than it would otherwise. It's just devestatingly powerful, even if on paper it isn't entirely obvious why it should be.

Yet for all of this, one might be tempted to say something to the effect of, "Well, the songs on side two are wonderful, but do they really fit in with the herky-jerky energy of the first side? By putting all the energetic songs on side one and all the mellow songs on side two, the cohesion of the album is made non-existent." And this could be true, were it not for the one remaining piece of the album; the keystone, the track that holds everything together and makes this album work as a whole. "Here He Comes" is an amazing song in its own right; the melody is gorgeous, the feel is mildly upbeat yet mellow, the bass solo in the middle that carries the melody is a pleasure and a half to listen to, and so on. Yet what makes this track so divine to my ears is that it accomplishes something that I cannot imagine any other track in the world pulling off; the album has only this one track as a buffer between the rhythmic fury of "King's Lead Hat" and powerful ambience of "Julie with ...," and yet the transition from the former to the latter not only doesn't feel awkward, it feels (to my ears) absolutely seamless. Because of "Here He Comes," instead of the album feeling like "half energetic nerd rock, half ambient balladry," it ends up feeling like the sound of the album slowly melts around my ears as it plays, and that is an incredible feeling and vibe to experience. And that's ultimately why this album is able to be rated as high as it is; it works as well as an album as anything else in my collection, despite the fact that, in theory, it shouldn't even come close to doing so.

So there's my gushing review of Eno's best work. I know there are some people who don't see this as a masterpiece, but I just cannot share this perspective. If you put any stock in my opinions whatsoever, please please please get this album and give it three or four listens (I admit that I wasn't blown away on first listen). Buy it next chance you get.

Report this review (#368778)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are lots of four and five stars for this album. But there is also Philippe's opinion (one star). My view is somewhere in between.

The opening track ("No One Receiving") is totally funky and can be considered as a deep influence for "Talking Heads" (even if most of "77" which was their debut album was composed in '76), but it can hardly be considered as anything prog IMHHO.

Another annoying aspect, is the poor vocal abilities from Eno in general and especially during "Blackwater". A certain early Roxy feel can be noticed in this track: same joyful and positive atmosphere. Again, this is not a bad track.

What comes next are two short pieces which could have been avoided for the benefit of the listeners ("Kurt's Rejoinder", "Energy Fools the Magician"). Even if the latter shows some decent ambient feel.

The upbeat and totally new wave oriented "King's Lead Hat" is quite funny and procures the need to jump and dance. Quite a refreshment should I say. I would be less dithyrambic about the soft ?country-rock ballad "Here He Comes". It sounds as if it was written for Elvis?

"Julie With?" sounds very much like some parts from "Low" (Bowie). No wonder you would say since Eno was involved with David during this period. What remains are some tranquil songs: from the candid and naïve "By This River", through the dramatic and cold "Through Hollow Lands" to end up with the harmonious and melancholic "Spider & I". No big deal though.

Three stars to my ears.

Report this review (#389328)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Before and After Science is Brian Eno's album of quirky pop inspired tunes. First of all, Eno was never a great vocalist, and he lets that fact shine proudly on this album. The majority of the tracks here are noisy and banal pop songs with simple musicianship and uninteresting electronic sounds. I'm not sure what made Eno decide to make this album and stop creating captivating experimental soundscapes, but this album really has always been a let down. The best thing about this album is the presence of the "Green World supergroup" as I like to call it (Percy Jones, Robert Fripp, Phil Collins), and also including Fred Frith among other musicians. Unfortunately, they don't stand out enough to make this album the least bit more of a good album.

If you're more into punky pop music with slightly experimental electronic noises, then this is a definite win. I'm for sure not sold on this brand of pop-punk-noise, and this isn't considered one of Eno's best, so I feel safe in saying that this album can be skipped.

Report this review (#438143)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars This might be one of the most inconsistent albums I own. Here you have incredibly annoying pop songs mixed with beautiful atmospheric songs. It just doesn't work as an album at all. It's like if Slayer made an album with their typical style and threw a few country songs in the mix. I like diversity in albums, but this isn't really diversity. Just two opposite styles showing up every now and then.

As said, the atmospheric songs are beautiful. They make up the high points of the album entirely and are packed with emotion and tasty ambiance. Not emotion that'll bring you all the way to tears, but it's nice. However, tears do come in when you here Eno's voice during the pop songs. Just thinking about it makes me rummage for the earplugs. Not even the great drummer Jaki Liebezeit could save "Backwater" from Eno's vocals which sound like a drunk uncle attempting karaoke.

Simply put, it's an album that has pretty good highs, but embarrassing lows. 4 stars for the atmospheric tracks, 1 for the poppy songs. That would come to 2.5 but since this album just doesn't seem to work as a whole, I am rounding down to 2.

Report this review (#464407)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The culmination of Brian Eno's art rock albums, the increasingly arty trajectory from the glammish Here Come the Warm Jets reaches its culmination here. Presenting a cold, plastic, artificial reimagining of sounds from Another Green World (once again members of Brand X join the extensive cast of supporting musicians, who also include Fred Frith and Robert Fripp), the result is an album which is emotionally blank and sterile where Another Green World was warm and rich and evocative. That isn't to say it's a bad album, but it's resolutely unapproachable and a tough job to really get to grips with, though the funky basswork on some songs does help. Definitely worth exploration, but not quite as wonderful as its predecessor; I think Eno wisely realised after this one that he'd taken this particular strand of his career as far as it could go, and so concentrated on his ambient material afterwards.
Report this review (#556902)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 4.5, maximum. It's as high as I can go, really.

If you want ambient and pop well-blended together, then there you have it. This maybe a tougher album to get into since the elements of pop tend to get in the way for my aura to absorb the essence of the ambient side of this record. Nonetheless, this is a really good piece of work, and it is quite likely that you won't be wasting your time listening to it if you give it enough attention. My personal biggest favorite is 'Here He Comes', where those synths are really penetrating my mind once again (after having a delightful experience with "Another Green World".) But it is not all ambient pop throughout the album; some of the songs here are just catchy, quirky, and happy, which provides the album with some contrast. That's good.

On a side note: has it not been for the title of the fourth track, I would have given that track a single star. Given its title, it is funny musico-conceptually. "Now you see the rabbit, now you don't." But then the magic for some reason fails the guy ? the bunny doesn't show up again, so now he just looks embarrassing. Then his head disappears because he stuck his head into it. Bottom line is: let you imagination do the trick here. This is more than just some lousy soundtrack.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'No One Receiving' - ****

2. 'Backwater' - ****

3. 'Kurt's Rejoinder' - **

4. 'Energy Fools the Magician' - ***

5. 'King's Lead Hat' - ***** (I like the guitar tone here better than the guitar tone on The Ramones' debut, believe it or not.)

6. 'Here He Comes' - *****

7. 'Julie With' - *****

8. 'By This River' - *****

9. 'Through Hollow Lands' - ****

10. 'Spider and I' - ***** ("We sleep in the mornings. We dream of a ship that sails away. A thousand miles away." Who else could think of such music?)

Stamp: "I like it."

"Wait a second, I don't get it. If you have quite a number of five-star tracks on this album, why did you give it a four or a four and a half?" The answer is: the effect of this album on me was short-living. It's a relationship that didn't last long because it just stopped working. It just needs a lot of focus on the emotional depth of some of the songs here. But, please, don't be discouraged from listening to this work. Critics love it, and, even though that doesn't mean that you have to like it, why don't you just give it a/another shot if you don't like it?

Report this review (#613895)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the one of the most refined album I that comes to my mind, both in composing and performing aspects. It is among my very favourite records. The main quality of Eno is very present here, as always: Weirdness. In the vocals, in the instrumentation, amazing guests, the assorted electronics, everywhere, but, isn't it what makes him special, at least different?

Every single track has life on its own, they're complete experiences by their own. Starting with "No One Receiving", odd time and percussion, and Eno's grotesque vocals. Then after "Backwater", pumping keyboards, guest Jaki Liebezeit from German band Can. "Kurt's Rejoinder" displays guest bassist Percy Jones ruthlessly. "Energy Fools The Magician" is short but an interestingly awkward instrumental. And "King's Lead Hat" defines quite well the non-ambient Eno, summarizes him quite well.

The second side is as terrific as the first. It is not made by the standard band of four instruments, but by layers of electronic keyboards and all kind of stuff. The only song in the normal format is the beautiful "Here He Comes". Following is "Julie With...", the lengthiest track of the album, containing all of its quality and diversity. "By This River" is simply gorgeous, and simple in structure, featuring the members of German band Cluster. "Through Hollow Lands" is an instrumental dedicated to Eno's mate Harold Budd, with whom he collaborated in many of his ambient albums, the song is very profound, it touches you. The album finally ends with "Spider And I", warm and comfortable, in the manner only Eno can do.

Eno. Nothing more to say. This is the best he could ever do, with everything he knew how to. He mastered the "song" format we know flawlessly. The instruments are extremely colourful, sounding like nothing else in the world. Great guests like Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, Robert Wyatt, Phil Manzanera... The list goes on

That's exactly what I was looking for when I discovered Brian Eno, something different from everything else, a completely new experience of music.

Report this review (#1026897)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars What a masterful art rocker Eno was back then. Even with all his more serious-minded ambient adventures and all my admiration for them in mind, nothing really beats the near-perfect balance of hooks, ambience and playful experimental edge he achieved on his vocal albums.

Twitchy, restless new wave-ish rhythms and flickering but precise instrumentation, with occasional throwbacks to the glam rock of yesteryear. A dominating rhythm section with cheeky, babbling bass crackles around a solid and effective (occasionally even stodgy) pop/rock structure. But that just leaves enough room for a depth of coming and going instruments and effects: essentially a whimsical pleasure in sound diversity and its transformational, enriching and chafing effects on the deceptive straightforwardness that often lies beneath the intense conversational style of the rest. Thanks to that things move, shake and fluctuate more than what seems possible. Groovy, sharply bass-laden joyrides with distinct snap, precise clarity and drive where ephemeral but clear sounds slide and shimmer by in the classy, if a bit blank, production.

It's idiosyncratic, quirkily and unstably melodic and more directly in-your-face, leaving Before And After Science less transcendent than Another Green World. It's more physical and movement-inducing, especially the majority of the songs on the album's first half.

But there's also the back-handed and leisurely form of ambience and atmosphere. Even so, it feels more focused than usual. Rarely open-ended and distilled into effective and evocative textures with a minimum of overlay, build-up, murky depths and imprecision. Despite of this it never comes across as insipid or quaint, but more as a linear and compressed form of the idea. Silken, colourful and ornamental keyboards, effects and the omnipresent bass sail by in smooth, pleasing and accurate concentrates of artsy atmospheric pop. A bit lighter, more grounded and personal, these looser tracks come across as pleasingly furnished, but non-obtuse musical hors d'oeuvre. It's like the gentle breeze of mildly scented but still refreshing evening air across your face. Equal parts fleeting and profound.

You kind of wish that this wasn't the last solely Eno-penned expedition into less nebulous and drifting musical adventures. He's got a knack for the gentle, melodious, sweetly naive and comfortably fuzzy pop-ambience as well as the more skeletal, sharp and playfully asymmetric new wave sounds. Hearing a bit more of that side wouldn't go amiss.

4 stars.

//LinusW

Report this review (#1136329)
Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

BRIAN ENO Before And After Science ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of BRIAN ENO Before And After Science


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives