INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Select OCTOBER 1992 - by Dave Morrison
BRIAN ENO: NERVE NET
Please leave your preconceptions at the door before entering. Eno's first non-ambient solo recording for fourteen years is completely different from any of his previous work.
Brian Eno's My Squelchy Life album had been recorded, reviewed in some quarters and set for release last autumn, but then a scheduling reshuffle meant that it was held back until early this year. Instead of waiting patiently, re-appropriated the tapes of the original sessions, stripped them back down and re-recorded a new album. He must have needed something to fill the time between lecturing, making audio-visual installations, remixing EMF's Unbelievable, sorting out the Zoo TV stuff for U2 and collaborating on the Real World Theme Park in Barcelona. The result is a plunge into the deep end of the mainstream demonstrating his remarkable knack of keeping outside and ahead of current trends while remaining a pervasive influence.
The easiest and laziest comparisons are made with the cool atmospheric grooves of System 7 and their ilk, but this gives only a fragment of the picture - the music on Nerve Net pushes at its own boundaries enough to suggest that programming in a languid rhythm and then overlaying it with suitably chilled out sounds is just too easy. Web, and Web (Lascaux Mix) which follows it, come from a different world altogether. An initial statement of ticking rhythms, piano trills and abrasive treated sounds runs into its stripped-down mirror image on which a gorgeous intensity is achieved. It's a sixteen-minute gem - mantric and mesmerising.
Similarly, all things techno get a sideways glance on Nerve Net before proceedings are steered in a different direction. On the single Fractal Zoom, tight-as-hell real drums judder away beneath arcs of synthesised sound and a lovely vocal melody somewhere in the distance. Reclusive guitar maestro Robert Fripp weighs in here with heavily-doctored lines and gets a free rein on Distributed Being, blasting currents of gale-force noise through the percussion and piano syncopation.
And there's so much more - bongos, doodling funky organ, jazzy saxes, thick, synthesised brass, and melodies constructed from a myriad of voice samples - fresh sonic ideas that are soothing, disturbing and, above all, accessible. A complete electric music for the mind and body for the '90s.