"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Unione Sarda MAY 1, 2002 - by Nando Mura
ONE, NO ONE AND BRIAN ENO
The anarchic genius who fractures and recombines all music.
He reminded us one more time the other night at the Communale di Cagliari: there's rock, jazz, the infinite ocean of pop, even waltz and also Caribbean and Indian rhythms. Everything you might want. And then there is him, Brian Eno. Everything and nothing, just as he has always liked to define himself: a non-musician, please, or a genius capable of refuting and at the same time building upon everything that seven notes can give to the ears and, above all, to the heart. Maybe it was destiny: his parents registered him with lots of names in the census of Woodbridge in Great Britain, in 1948; as many as the musical genres which have since touched the life of Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Graduated in Fine Arts in London. Strange: many still think - in light of his innate passion for electronics - that he is a sound engineer, even autodidactic, or in any case something of that sort. And it is with the electric circuits of the synthesizer, the instrument to which he gave popularity and dignity, that Brian Eno turned the world of rock music upside-down thirty years ago, introducing to the detached but splendid melodies of Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music, and then to the court of the legendary King Crimson of that other genius, Robert Fripp, sounds not produced by traditional instruments, creating atmospheres as unique now as they were then. Eno's is a life in the avant-garde, from when he was making ambient music twenty years before it was more widely appreciated, right up to when he synthesised (and that is exactly the correct verb) his thought in a manifesto which overturned music's most elemental concepts: someone writes the music, someone else performs it, and I'll worry about the rest, manipulating the production as he did the other night at the Communale.
It was in 1968: Brian was twenty years old on the day, during that fertile but never properly lamented period, when he gave birth to a legitimate musical child with a simple secret: I make music that I like to listen to. He's not the only one, seeing as Cagliari answered with a full house, but full not only with those nostalgic for that group born from the fusion of rock and sex (namely, Roxy), or of Talking Heads or King Crimson. Today - to take only a single example - U2 would possibly not be the U2 we know without Eno's sympathetic intuitions which enabled the blending of Bono's two (vocal) cords and the The Edge's (electric) six. His latest voyage, not only musical in nature, is still towards the future: ninety minutes of concert, already recorded on a CD, Drawn From Life - music that Brian Eno loves to define as imperfect, maybe indecipherable on first listening, in reality twisted and tangled and, above all, beyond that which you've previously heard and dared to listen to. This is with Brian's histrionic intervals, more comprehensible in English than in Italian. Just a few words to add a soft touch of ironic detachment: I can't translate the title of this song because I barely know what it means in English. And then there is the excellent band that radiates music from drums, percussion, solo guitarist, bass and violin into the console where the Eta Beta of Sussex and the ex-Frankfurt DJ, J. Peter Schwalm, remix everything with their diabolical synthesizers, instruments capable of giving Eno a seventeen-octave range.
The secret of this perfectly-realised concert was the fusion - not easily accomplished - between acoustic and electronic, the non-intrusive percussion, the sweetness of the violin, the understanding that Eno was able to create within a group of virtuosos, breaking up the austerity of the night at the Communale with bucket-loads of irony, befitting the comedian that he is: the splendid violinist Nell Catchpole, the serene Leo Abrahams on guitar, the heart of the drummer Cristoph Buhse, the soul of the percussionist Heiko Himminhoffen, the king of the outfit Tim Harris on bass, and that giant jazz hammer Peter Schwalm. And then there's him, Brian Eno, who has defined himself modestly as the magician of love. All, as they sung at the dawn of the '70s, For Your Pleasure. Interminable, thanks to a reprise, and everyone had the pleasant sensation that the second version of Warnography was different to the first, another secret of this genius' music that sometimes repeats without you realising it. And there were those, not yet satisfied, who waited till after the end of the concert to try to get even more, an autograph or perhaps a quick exchange: We've been waiting for you for thirty years, they said to him as he was leaving the Communale. And he, Brian etcetera etcetera Eno, with disarming candour, replied: Is this the way out?