Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Brian Eno

Progressive Electronic

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Brian Eno Small Craft On A Milk Sea album cover
3.91 | 100 ratings | 9 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Emerald and Lime
2. Complex Heaven
3. Small Craft on a Milk Sea
4. Flint March
5. Horse
6. 2 Forms of Anger
7. Bone Jump
8. Dust Shuffle
9. Paleosonic
10. Slow Ice, Old Moon
11. Lesser Heaven
12. Calcium Needles
13. Emerald and Stone
14. Written, Forgotten
15. Late Anthropocene
16. Invisible (Japan retail only)

iTunes Store pre-order bonus track:

"Loose Rein"

Collector's edition bonus disc:

"Square Chain"
"Bimini Twist"
"Abandoned Ship"

Bonus disc available through Rough Trade:

"Square Chain"
"Bimini Twist"
"Invisible" - 5:10

Line-up / Musicians

Leo Abrahams - guitar and computers
Brian Eno - vocals, synthesizer, production
Jon Hopkins - programming and keyboards

Releases information

Warp Records

Available in regular old CD and digital formats as well as two deluxe versions: A limited edition box featuring the album on CD, vinyl, and download, as well as a bonus CD with four extra tracks, and a lithograph of Eno's artwork, as well as a super-limited collectors' edition set featuring all of the above plus an entirely "unique and customised 12" square silkscreen print" by Eno himself as well as "a real copper plate, etched with the title and edition number embedded in the slipcase spine

Thanks to snobb for the addition
Edit this entry

Buy BRIAN ENO Small Craft On A Milk Sea Music

BRIAN ENO Small Craft On A Milk Sea ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BRIAN ENO Small Craft On A Milk Sea reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars New Brian Eno album is his debut on once Nightmares on Wax and Aphex Twin home label London-based Warp. World premiere of this release happened in Japan mid- October,what shows openly what the label see as main album's market. Album is recorded by Eno as trio with guitarist Leo Abrahams and keyboardist Jon Hopkins.

From the very first sounds you understand,that this album's music is usual Eno's ambient electronics,but I was a bit afraid of some new age touches in the sound. After few songs were listened I began to feel more comfortable though - yes, new Eno album is quite accessible (in moments) mix of ambient,techno rhythms, even few new age licks, but generally it's just a collection of electronic improvs. Not too much "out " from casual listener's field of interest, but never too dance able or commercial.

There are plenty of rhythms,some guitar licks and piano sound over Eno's electronic/ ambient constructions, so music is not too much abstract , but from other hand melodies and tunes for sure weren't too important for this album. Trio concentrates on soundscapes, textures and atmosphere more than on songs structures or melodies. It's interesting to hear how three mostly electronic musicians play jams - much more usual musical forms for acoustic or electric jazz or rock musicians.

Album in whole is possible not very dynamic, but happily there are enough different rhythms, musical variations not to be boring even for listener,different from electronic ambient fan. Some compositions sound as Games soundtracks, other - as soundtracks,but for movies.

Not revolution, this release is more evolutionary step,compilation of Eno's musical ideas of some latest years in one place, released in quite accessible and attractive form.

Japanese release contains 16-th bonus track " Invisible" - classic minimalist ambient composition with liquid sound, almost-nature sounds and cool melancholic piano touches somewhere on the background. It looks, there will be many different this album versions released later. Possibly, one of most pleasant release of mainstream ambient electronic music this year.

My rating is 3 +,rounded to 4.

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Brian Eno's latest offering is a pleasant but slightly curious addition to his impressive back catalogue. Although ostensibly a solo album, it's actually a straight 3 way collaboration with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins - the pieces were edited down from group improvisation sessions - and while it's entirely instrumental, it doesn't quite fit in with Eno's ambient work.

The album starts out in familiar, drifting ambient territory that recalls Music for Films or, on the title track, his work with Fripp on Equatorial Stars. Just as the listener is is becoming accustomed to the atmospheric ambient sounds, however, guest percussionist Jez Wiles sets up a pounding tribal rhythm on Flint March and ushers in a series of rhthmically propulsive tracks dominated by guitar and drums (both real and artificial). These are the most contemporary sounding pieces on the album, evidence perhaps that Eno has recently been listening to other releases on the Warp label (home to Aphex Twin among many others), but rather than trying to get down with the kids Eno has put his own highly cerebral spin on things; uptempo they may be, but the pieces that make up the middle third of this album won't be filling any dancefloors in the near future. After Paleosonic the atmosphere calms down again, and the album gently wends its way to the only extended piece, Late Anthropocene, which drifts on for just over eight minutes and wouldn't sound out of place on Shutov Assembly.

Although it consists mostly of short tracks (the 14 pieces preceding Late Anthropocene fill up just over 40 minutes) this album should really be taken is as a single entity. The best reference points are perhaps his albums with Cluster or the Jah Wobble collaboration Spinner, and even the lowest key pieces here reward careful listening. Eno is no longer ahead of his time, or perhaps time has finally caught up with him, but at 62 he's as inquisitive and creative as ever. Equally recommended to newcomers and established fans.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Small Craft on a Milk Sea is a set of electronic improvisations by Brian Eno and co. all strung together sequentially to form a concept, and it is definitely a wonderful piece of art. It's been so long since I've found an album that really touched me emotionally like this one has. The sound on this album is a bit more modern and "squeaky clean" than the previous Eno albums, but that's to be expected, and it definitely works here. Although the tracks do work together as a whole to create kind of an auditory story experience, each track is its own individual piece with a clear beginning point and a clear ending point, which at first seems odd considering that most of these tracks are rather short. Since each track is short, there isn't a lot of room for each track to progress very far within itself, which again makes this album stronger as one whole conceptual piece.

Small Craft on a Milk Sea is a great collection of tracks that fuse together both ambient tracks and dance tracks (a la Autechre, fellow Warp labelmates), but both of those styles are fronted by a strong sense of obvious improvisation; the main element that makes this album sound so convincing and "real".

I personally consider this album to be separated into 5 sets or scenes of 3 tracks each, all of which run in the same order that the album normally would:

Set 1; "Emerald and Lime", "Complex Heaven", "Small Craft on a Milk Sea" - This is the set of the first three tracks, and they're all beautiful and soft mid- to slow-paced improvisations that could soothe the mind of even the most paranoid individual. Softly played keys mingle with ambient electronic noises, and it really comes together as one of the most engaging ambient pieces I've ever heard. Each one of these tracks gets slightly darker than the last, and the title-track ends with a faint but gloomy groove that foreshadows the sound of the next set of tracks...

Set 2; "Flint March", "Horse", "2 Forms of Anger" - This set consists of the dark, dance inspired tracks that fly at the listener with surprising fury. Each of these three tracks have a very steady, cohesive beat that would be very easy to dance to, but have a very gloomy feel, almost a "running for life" kind of feel. "2 Forms of Anger" particularly sounds like an Autechre tracks - very bleak but faintly mechanical.

Set 3; "Bone Jump", "Dust Shuffle", "Paleosonic" - The third set of tracks has a very Super Mario Bros. underground-level kind of feel. Very bassy, echoed, and sort of creepy. "Dust Shuffle" is the most dance-inspired track in this set, and "Paleosonic" is very experimental sounding with frantic guitar and plenty of confusing and "new" sounds that I've not heard before from Eno, and they sound almost like garbling monsters.

Set 4; "Slow Ice, Old Moon", "Lesser Heaven", "Calcium Needles" - These tracks consist mostly of ominous ambient drones to create an atmosphere that suggest all of your horrors have taken over. Although "Lesser Heaven" is lightly uplifting, this track in the middle makes it feel like a "false happiness" - like being in a black dungeon and seeing a beam of light off in the distance, only to reach it and find that the opening is miles above and out of reach.

Set 5; "Emerald and Stone", "Written Forgotten", "Late Anthropocene" - This set starts off with the same motif that began this album, beautifully played on the keys but with a darker, distant, drowning effect. The set continues with two of the most emotional tracks on the album, both darkly ambient and depressingly beautiful. The drowning melodies just float through a sea of black tears until the album ends.

Out of all of the great work that Brian Eno has created throughout his career, Small Craft on a Milk Sea is among his best, and my personal favorite. It's highly emotional, very stark, and very convincing of matters of reality. It would be impossible for me not to call this album a masterpiece.

Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A trip into the depths of dreams.

It's albums like this that send the mind into that revolutionary realm that one's in when they've almost reached the state of sleep. Every other sound is drowned out and the listener is alone with their thoughts. It's a very surreal feeling and for this very reason Eno succeeds in creating yet another sonic masterpiece.

Brian Eno can really make things sound glacial and with Small Craft on a Milk Sea he makes an album that's lush and well-produced and although an ambient record seems to be so much more. Fans of his previous work will undoubtedly enjoy this album, it's everything they could ask for and more.

Imagine yourself, in a dream, floating on a small craft, a wooden ship of sorts on a white foamy sea but the sky is blue and the air is cold. That's the feeling I get and that's what I expect Eno wanted me to feel.

Don't get pinched too hard by the Calcium Needles, 4 stars of beauty.

Review by admireArt
4 stars It is easy to overlook or keep a strict record of Brian Eno´s vast discography; taking into account; in my experience, besides being huge, not all projects are worth the wait. So it is like random luck. "Sample-Test-Decide-Hold/Unhold", a quiet expensive route.

So feel lucky! This "Small Craft on a Milk Sea" is like a "Greatest, Brian Eno, Musical Languages' Discoveries and Experimentations", through out his entire career, release. If you thought, it is quiet impossible to blend the "primitive electronic-toy language" of lets say "Taking Tiger Mountain.." or the more close to weird-pop music of "Here Come the Warm Jets" to more sober works like "Before and After Science" (which name would have been perfect for this album), and understand in the process, his taste for bands like Ultravox; which 1st record he produced, his closeness with people like Bowie, Robert Fripp, Daniel Lanois, David Byrne, or long time partner John Cale, adding up to a very, very long list of collaborations. And his now new collaborators: Leo Abrahams, whose electric guitar gives this work its rocking nature when needed and Jon Hopkins on the keys. And of course in the middle of all these, his amazing sonic discoveries in the form of his most "famous" known language "Ambient". So don't let me be misunderstood. All here is new material that by chance or intention, establish all his musical language discoveries, which he has absorved, sampled, tested, proven, changed and re-modeled, for this project.

Worth the wait, or however you want to call it. Mostly, AMBIENT a little bit conceptual like "Before and After" and a very kind trip to most of his musical discoveries highlights.

4 "excellent work, worth listening to".. PA stars. To be honest, I even got the "Deluxe Edition". It is worth it.


Review by tarkus1980
4 stars Whee, another Eno collaboration. This one drew a decent amount amount of attention in the run-up to its release, for two main reasons. The first reason was that this was Eno's first project after he'd been signed to Warp records, a longstanding British label specializing in electronic music, and it was interesting to speculate on how one of the forefathers of electronic music would fare upon joining a label focused on the cutting edge of it. The second reason had to do with Eno's collaborators; Leo Abrahams (who had contributed some guitar to Drawn From Life and had worked on a few albums Eno had produced) and Jon Hopkins (who had helped out on Another Day on Earth and had worked with Eno on some other projects) had established themselves as important figures in their own right in the world of electronic music, and these were definitely the biggest non-Fripp names that Eno had collaborated with on a non-song-centric album since his work with Harold Budd and with Cluster (the trio had also recently collaborated on the soundtrack to the Peter Jackson film The Lovely Bones). If Eno was ever going to make another non-song-centric album that "mattered," then this was the best opportunity he'd had in a while.

It took me a few listens to settle on how I felt about this, but I ultimately came to the conclusion that this is one of Eno's better instrumental albums. Unfortunately, my near total ignorance of contemporary (circa the 2010s) electronic music is a hindrance for me in making sense of my feelings towards music of this sort (generally, I get the sense that I would probably enjoy a lot of it if I allocated significant time towards getting acquainted with it, but unfortunately I just don't have the time to go down that road without giving up something else); this lack of context means that I can't make assessments that go much beyond "gee that sounds real good yup." Well, sometimes "gee that sounds real good yup" is all somebody needs in life, and this album satisfies me just fine along those lines. It's hard for me to distinguish which parts belong more to Eno than to the others; a lot of the music on here came from improvisations that were edited down and spliced together, and it's hard to say that any particular member is dominant at a given point. That said, there are some tracks that at least sound like they come from familiar territory for long-time Eno listeners; the opening "Emerald and Lime" (and the later reprise, "Emerald and Stone") is rather pretty (based around a slow rolling piano line over assorted other keyboards), "Bone Jump" sounds a lot like a typical track from The Drop in terms of the various keyboard sounds used, and "Lesser Heaven" doesn't sound that different from something that could have been on Ambient 4 or the like. The closing 8-minute "Late Anthropocene" definitely sounds like it could have been on Ambient 4, thanks to its repeated slowly ascending synth line and all of the various burblings happening underneath it, and it's a highlight as well.

Some other tracks sound vaguely like could have come from Music For Films, but with some unsettling atmospheric wrinkles; my favorite examples of this kind of track (but not the only examples) are "Complex Heaven" (which puts nagging bits of guitar over wandering keyboard plinks and fascinating other noises) and "Calcium Needles" (full of echoey chime-like noises that would work terrifically as a soundtrack in a scene that involved exploration of a misty cave). Much of the rest has a more distinctly modern feel to it, such as "Flint March" (full of jittery percussion loops), "Horse" (which sounds like the backing track to an angrier-than-usual Radiohead song), "2 Forms of Anger" (much the same), "Paleosonic" (all sorts of processed guitar-and- otherwise noise on top of a percussion loop that would sound goofy on its own), and a few others.

It's not really worth it to mention every other track, but they fit in well with the rest of the album, providing both variety and a sense of sheer competence that make them enjoyable on their own and in context. Overall, then, this album strikes me as pretty remarkable, and I'd definitely recommend it to anybody who considers themselves a fan of Eno's instrumental work and even to some who don't. As a "keeping up with the youngsters" exercise, it beats the snot out of (for instance) Nerve Net, and there's enough diversity in sound and style to keep it from getting as monotonous as some of Eno's solo work can sometimes get. Hats off to Eno for working on his game at such a late date.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Brian Eno released a new album in 2010 after a 5-year hiatus. Maybe revived by his successful recent producer collaboration with U2 and Coldplay, he delivers the quality above his 90's and early 2000 standards. The album is focused, quite varied but uniformly prefers ambiance to melody and songw ... (read more)

Report this review (#2928122) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, May 26, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Eno's 2010 effort "Small Craft on A Milk Sea" is a collection of instrumental works with a definite 21st century feel. The album consists a combination of "vertical" sound-scapes, the attraction of which lies in timbrel qualities rather than melodic or rhythmic interest, interspersed with drivin ... (read more)

Report this review (#414610) | Posted by Mazza | Saturday, March 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of BRIAN ENO "Small Craft On A Milk Sea"

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


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: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.