Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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Trouser Press FEBRUARY 1978 - by Paul Rambali

BRIAN ENO: BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE

It appears the grandiosely titled Before And After Science did not come easy to the erudite Mr. Eno. It was first scheduled some ten months ago, but collaborations with Bowie and, more centrally, a discontentment with his famed work system have delayed its release until now. Eno said in a recent interview that having recorded about a hundred and twenty tracks in the two years between this and Another Green World, and having broken three completion deadlines trying to finish it to his satisfaction, he finally gave up, crossed his fingers and put the bugger out.

It shows. Fourteen Pictures, to use its subtitle, is ten tracks and four watercolor prints from Peter Schmidt (the co-originator of "Oblique Strategies" and Tiger Mountain cover artist) and it is at once satisfying and frustrating. It contains many prime adventurous Eno moments, and for that alone is a requisite purchase, but as an album it's sadly incomplete.

It is as if Eno, lost for a common feel in his various musics, has simply grouped a bunch of tracks together under the convenient "pictures" heading and left it at that. The pacing, for instance, is far too easy. Borrowing from Bowie (or vice versa), the tranquil pieces are grouped on one side and the more raucous stuff on the other. None of the careful, sublime shifts of mood that graced Another Green World and will grace the forthcoming Music For Films here.

Also it seems that Eno has yet to achieve a comfortable marriage of his earlier clockwork whimsy and his current near-subliminal technique. Each category seems here to work best in isolation. The two most compelling cuts are the melancholy instrumental Through Hollow Lands, and the furious, riveting King's Lead Hat; his ventures into a more mechanical style (No One Receiving and Kurt's Rejoinder) come a close second. Energy Fools The Magician steps briefly into Weather Report areas; they also deal in sound pictures. Backwater and Here He Comes are lightweight nursery fare - Eno at his most pleasant but least fascinating. The remaining pieces are Eno's atmospheric hypnosis music, all (except the aforementioned Hollow Lands) rather dull compared to his other moves in this field.

The choice of musicians is par for the course. Paul Rudolph, Phil Collins, Percy Jones, Dave Mattacks and Phil Manzanera crop up most, with one-offs from Bob Fripp, Can's Jaki Liebezeit and Cluster's Achim Roedelius and Mobi Moebius.

Despite reservations as to the total success of this album, Eno's inventions are ever intriguing, sly, stirring and always rewarding. Buy this, buy "Heroes", and lay waste to the notion that rock is up an alley.


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