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Brian Eno - Spinner (with Jah Wobble) CD (album) cover

SPINNER (WITH JAH WOBBLE)

Brian Eno

Progressive Electronic


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Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After producing so many albums it shouldn't be surprising to find one of Brian Eno's better efforts more or less falling through the cracks of our collective attention span. You can blame it in part on the music itself, which isn't exactly designed to call attention to itself. But on the other hand this 1995 experiment, recorded with Post Punk bass guitar legend Jah Wobble, isn't your typically minimal ambient Eno soundscape.

The project was unique in the way the two never actually shared any studio time together. The initial tracks were composed by Eno alone, as the soundtrack to an obscure avant-garde film ("Glitterbug", directed by his old pal Derek Jarman). Only afterward were the tapes offered to Wobble (a.k.a. John Wardle), with the invitation to make any additions and/or alterations he wanted, and no questions asked.

The result is a curious but effective hybrid surpassing even the expectations raised by two such distinctive musical artists. Imagine the quintessential sound of Eno's more intuitive inner-space musings, beefed up by the dub-heavy subterranean bass playing of Wobble, and edited after the fashion of a Holger Czukay collage into an almost seamless 60-minute piece of music.

Navel gazers will appreciate the near-subliminal ambient subtlety of it all (one selection, the 20+ minute "Left Where It Fell", even includes a five-minute stretch of complete silence, turning the long epilogue into more of a bonus track). And less passive listeners can climb right into the occasional cool rhythmic groove, all of which brings the music close to the underground spirit of classic Krautrock, thanks in large part to Wobble's recruitment of his old sparring partner, drummer Jaki Liebezeit (ex-CAN, of course).

Unlike some of Eno's other pioneering ambient albums ("Neroli", "The Shutov Assembly", take your pick), there's little here that anyone could call blissful or soothing. In its own quiet, undemonstrative way this is strong stuff: the perfect soundtrack for late-night electronic meditation on what was then the eve of a brave new Millennium.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#110475)
Posted Friday, February 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars With Added Wobble

The music contained on "Spinner" was originally composed for "Glitterbug", the last film of director Derek Jarman. Bizarrely, the Internet Movie database comments " If you like this title, we also recommend I Was a Jewish Sex Worker". "Glitterbug", which was released posthumously, consisted of super-8 film taken by Jarman over a twenty year period. As such, it was never going to be a blockbuster.

When looking to release the music as a soundtrack album though, Eno came to the conclusion that it did not stand up well on its own, as it was an integral part of the film. Eno therefore decided to use the music as the basis for a collaboration with Jah Wobble, who receives co-billing on the CD. Wobble took Eno's master tapes, and set about reworking the pieces to greater of lesser degrees.

The results certainly retain the signature of Brian Eno, with Wobble's contributions adding some interesting new dimensions to some tracks.

Two pieces, the opening "Where we lived" and "Space diary" are exactly as Eno recorded them. Others, such as "Steam" use the original material solely as an "atmosphere" for a completely new composition. As it turns out, "Steam" is one of the strongest tracks on the album, with definite simiralities to the music of TANGERINE DREAM. Aside from his compositional and behind the scenes contributions, Wobble's participation tends to be restricted to bass guitar which is well forward in the mix, plus occasional keyboards and drums.

Words such as "treatments" and "atmosphere" feature regularly in the instrumental line up, offering a clear indication of the type of music to expect. Spacey sounds are mixed with repetitive rhythms and themes in an understated ambience. The seven minute closing track "Left where it fell" is the most dynamic of the bunch, with aggressive stereo effects, and a pulsating rhythm. Five minutes after it concludes, a hidden unnamed 8 minute bonus track kicks in.

While Eno may have hoped that Wobble's intervention would create something more substantial than music for a film, essentially that is what it remains. Fans of Eno, or electronic ambience in general, will find this album agreeable. For the rest, it is an inoffensive nonentity.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#116863)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink

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