INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Chicago Tribune OCTOBER 29, 2010 - by Greg Kot
BRIAN ENO: SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA
Brian Eno's twenty-fifth studio album is an all-instrumental collaboration with guitarist Leo Abrahams and electronic musician Jon Hopkins. The younger foils mainly serve to feed Eno's voracious appetite for new ideas, but Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp) is more a rehash of the famed producer/artist/conceptualist's best moves: ambient soundscapes that put a premium on spaciousness and repetition; stately, slow-moving melodies tucked inside cloudy atmospherics; and cinematic dynamics (some of the music was originally considered for an Eno soundtrack to the 2009 movie The Lovely Bones).
The album's fifteen mostly concise tracks are divided into three distinct movements: floating at the outset without a discernible pulse like pretty feathers; shifting into more jagged terrain, with driving rhythms and corrosive guitar; and finally back into a cocoon of lulling electronics.
Though there are undeniable moments of beauty in the two softer sections, these compositions too often blur the line between the hypnotic and the merely dull. The middle portion is where the real action is, from the glitchy churn of Flint March through the lopsided buzz of Paleosonic. The album crests when the ominous 2 Forms Of Anger turns a flicker into a house fire with guitar racing over tribal drums and a hive of electronic noise. It's the kind of hair-raising music that one wishes occurred more frequently on this overly subdued collection.