INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Rolling Stone AUGUST 2004 - by Pat Blashill
What do U2, Radiohead and Aphex Twin have in common? A big debt to Brian Eno. Four classic albums explain why.
The extraordinary creature known as Brian Eno has had several brilliant careers: he was the feather-boa-wearing synth player for Roxy Music, he pretty much invented modern electronic ambient music, and he was a master producer for U2, Talking Heads and Devo, amongst others. In the mid-1970s, after Roxy and before drifting purposefully into dreamy electronic incidental music, Eno made these four strange and beautiful art-rock albums, in which he brought wreckage to the pop song as we know it.
On Here Come The Warm Jets, Eno, guitarist Robert Fripp and moonlighting members of Roxy Music reconstitute rock and pop into some bizarre third thing - this is an album that encompasses both the squeak-bleep balloon-fart solo in The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch and the impossibly bright guitars of Needle In The Camel's Eye. This continued on Before And After Science, where the giddy, dissonant synth solos on Backwater manage to be gnarly and fluid at the same time, and should have made electric guitars obsolete (in fact, maybe they did). Eno combined his eccentricities with his sugarplums: on China My China (Taking Tiger Mountain), a typewriter duets with a flame-throwing electric guitar and a bass line that seems to be made of Play-Doh, but Eno's bubblehead singing turns the whole thing into a very catchy nursery rhyme.
Even today, Eno is the Kevin Bacon of pop, rock and electro music, because there's barely two degrees of separation between him and the stars of the present. But for all Eno's influence, most of his heirs don't sound as if they are having half as much fun as he did on a tune such as The True Wheel - one of the most joyful noises in rock. Like the other forty-three songs on these albums, it is the sound of an ingenious musical brain, delighted and surprised by his own crazy loops.