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Brian Eno - Before And After Science CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.80 | 211 ratings

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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 | 4/5 |


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