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Brian Eno - Brian Eno & Rick Holland: Drums Between The Bells CD (album) cover


Brian Eno

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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.]

Report this review (#627079)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's no easy listening music least it starts this way...with the 2 first tracks. The Opening "Bless this space" is like 22st centurian...again...why again? because we know that Eno already visited the future before ... In the beginning of this album it is a future that sound overmodernized of course...not sexy...because of those disturbed electronics programms at the control...

The 2nd track follow the same jerky path... if you introduce without warning those two songs in the middle of a salsa party ... (a music style that half of my own family enjoy to death) ...people will strangle you on the dancefloor... because this sound as angular space invaders without is the creative sound of a bug ... sort of...or a real strawberry of metal for robots of the next age...I am not a fan of those 2 tracks but they are important as a contrast for the following tittles...

But then since track 3..."Dreambirds"...change is on the march...less bugs less infected laptops...some human breaths already pulsate under the synthesized skins... the followin Tracks follow more or less this path... then the longer "The Real" (Track6)... is opiumized...typical of ModernEno...a floating affair... existential female cyborg with disguised emotions...psychedelic and all at slow extatic journey...a land and space where every single second can last longer like supspended bridges...

"The Airman" (Track007) could have been in a futuristic James Bond movie's not the best but it's pleasant's vaguely trip hop too

"A Title" (Track10) is another real high...with late 70s Krautrock echoes ... The Chaos is back with "Sound like Alien"(11) but it does not sound bad with an original funkified angle. "Dow"(12) Is good not so noisy but it's kinda nearly sound a lil bit as world music but without the usual ingredients of world's zarbi...maybe it is world music of age 2112 with some kraut xtra spices "Multimedia"(13) is a favourite even if it is unfotunately a litle bit too short...

There's a few more songs but they are more about the lyrics and less about the sound... not bad but i surely need more listening ...

This album is top notch ! i guess it deserve something around a 8/10's prog of course , kinda avant garde...we cannot loose our time with this...

Report this review (#1090521)
Posted Sunday, December 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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