Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno

Clash JULY 1, 2011 - by Robin Murray

BRIAN ENO: DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS

With the words of Rick Holland...

For his second release on Warp the king of collaborators and unwavering creative spirit has teamed up with poet Rick Holland. Surprisingly upbeat jazz inflections, syncopated drums and chunky synths provide the album opener, which moves swiftly into the aptly named Glitch, featuring the digitised motorised cold war intonations of Grazyna Goworek.

As on his previous Warp release Small Craft On A Milk Sea, Eno's soundscapes oscillate between the disruptive and the transcendental. This is expertly illustrated in the shift from the stuttering Glitch to the piano-led yearning of Dreambirds. In this Rick's words are indisputably painterly, but they are read by an altogether too melodramatic actress. As If Your Eyes Were Partly Closed As If You Honed The Swirl Within Them And Offered Me... The World, so impressively long in title, sits somewhere between The Clangers and the fuzzy pre-natal warmth of Close Encounters' famous five tones and is all the better for being instrumental. The hymnal and genuinely uplifting Cloud 4 is followed by a fifty-seven-second track of (ambient) silence.

Despite the initial twinkling of glockenspiels and bottles on the last track, which Eno sings himself, it is a mournful piece, reminiscent of Drift-era Scott Walker. But there is sadly nothing pioneering here, despite the crystal clear production. Overall, the mannered vocal deliveries detract too much from the music, despite their intoxicating lyricism. Often it feels more like an overly conscious art project rather than an album that will sustain repeated listening; it's undeniably, admirably beautiful in parts, but ultimately too consciously cerebral and self satisfied to love.


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