INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Blurt AUGUST 15, 2011 - by Ron Hart
BRIAN ENO AND THE WORDS OF RICK HOLLAND: DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS
Anyone who has followed the career trajectory of Brian Eno these last forty years could have predicted that his productivity levels would increase vastly after signing to Warp Records. And the studio wizard from Suffolk wasted no time in following up his acclaimed late 2010 label debut with Padawan learners Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins, the dynamic Small Craft On A Milk Sea, with an equally engaging sonic concept entitled Drums Between The Bells.
This one, however, revolves around the long-standing collaborative friendship with British poet Rick Holland. The pair originally came together to make music in 2003, after Eno discovered Holland's work in the late '90s during the intercollegiate Map-Making Project. Though none of the material on this album stems from those initial sessions, the music on Bells is as varied and challenging as anything Eno has done in years. As an elite prose posse of local-level vocalists recites Holland's poetry either in song or in spoken word form (including old Rick himself on Fierce Aisles Of Light), Eno cooks up a moody array of latitudinal beds of tone that range from caustic, Autechre-esque electronic assaults (Glitch, Sounds Alien) to washes of pure digital warmth comparable to some of his lesser-known ambient works in the '00s like Textures and Music For Prague (The Real, Seedpods) to beautiful passages for grand piano that recalls Discreet Music unplugged.
Serious Eno-philes will want to immediately bypass the standard edition of Drums Between The Bells and upgrade to the limited edition hardback version. It contains a beautifully designed forty-four-page book housing all of the featured poems on the album in written form and, even better, a bonus disc graced with mildly reworked instrumental versions of its fourteen cuts.
If this is the kind of output we should come to expect from Brian Eno during this new partnership with Warp, we are in for quite an exciting journey into the golden years of this true icon of modern music.