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

Ology OCTOBER 29, 2010 - by Brett Warner

BRIAN ENO: SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA

U2's last album called and wants its cover back...

When he wasn't busy being one of the most important producers in the history of popular music (David Bowie, Talking Heads, U2, Coldplay, etc.), former Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno recorded a stunning string of early experimental records that forged the sound known broadly as "ambient": spacious, minimalist, sound-based music that eschews traditional structure and instrumentation. Beginning with 1975's ground-breaking Another Green World, Eno has defined and re-defined the genre, while bringing his unique sense of "noise emotion" into the world of pop and rock music. His first since 2005's Another Day On Earth, new album Small Craft On A Milk Sea is a typically Eno collection of found sound and synthesised atmosphere with some unexpectedly intense and percussive tunes breaking through the quiet.

A collaboration with guitarist Leo Abrahams and electronic musician Jon Hopkins, the record opens with the Philip Glass-esque Emerald And Lime, a melodic bath of cascading keyboards that's reprised later on as Emerald And Stone in a more piano-led arrangement. The spooky, throbbing ambience of Complex Heaven and careening bass of the title track lead into the startling and booming percussive stomp of Flint March, its relentless momentum awash in waves of airline engine-esque brushstrokes. The one-two aggressive punch of Horse and 2 Forms Of Anger are pseudo-industrial, electronic punches to the throat; the former is filled out with glitch percussion and intense, over-processed guitar lines, while the post-rocking, dissonant later features a menacing tribal beat that explodes into a balls-out rock and roll fire fight.

The slowly creeping Bone Jump (featuring a jazzy, meandering bass line) and sputtering break-beats of Dust Shuffle slow the record's momentum down a bit, while the fantastic Paleosonic - complete with cavernous percussion and sampled guitar noise - favourably recalls Eno's landmark My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts collaboration with David Byrne. Things slow back down into familiar, Eno-friendly territory with the wintry soundscape of Slow Ice, Old Moon and underwater melancholy of Lesser Heaven. The clanging metal, empty warehouse vibe of Calcium Needles and cinematic, neo-noir keyboards on Written, Forgotten open the door for the eight minute Late Anthropocene, a by-the-books Eno sound experiment that captures a sustained mood if not our full attention.

Sum-ology: A classic ambient record from Brian Eno with enough percussive muscle and industrial grit to merit an attentive listen. Dig out your best pair of headphones for this one!


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