INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Forte SEPTEMBER 2001 - by Kim Porter
DRAWN FROM LIFE
For the record, I'll state that I'm an Eno fan from way back. His influence on contemporary music cannot be underestimated - 1974's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), 75's Another Green World, 77's masterpiece, Before And After Science, the ground-breaking 1981 collaboration with David Byrne, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts - these were all landmark albums, each marking out a sudden and new direction for hundreds of other bands and artists to follow. And they did. And scattered around these releases were the ambient releases.
Following a January 1975 car crash, Eno was bedridden for much of the year. Attempting to listen to an album left by his friend Judy Nylon, the effort of getting the record playing left him too exhausted to climb out of a bed again to adjust the volume. As it began to rain outside he found that the low level of the music combined with the ambient sounds of the weather, making him listen to the sounds in a new way. Voila! Ambient music was born.
Although Apollo (1983) veers dangerously close to Vangelis territory, the remainder of Eno's ambient catalogue makes for compelling listening - Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978), Ambient 4: On Land (1982) and the awe-inspiring, minimalist-in-the-extreme Thursday Afternoon (1985) being the pick.
Taking all the above into consideration, the new release, in collaboration with German hip-hop DJ/Drummer, J. Peter Schwalm, and featuring guests such as Laurie Anderson and Holger Czukay, is not the most necessary item in the Brian Eno canon. Much of it is flat and lifeless, possibly indicating that perhaps too much thought went into the pieces - the emotion was analysed and refined right out of the music. Each bizarrely separated by several minutes of silence, the final trio of tracks provide the album's highlights.