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

Under The Radar JULY 3, 2014 - by Ryan Leas

ENO/HYDE: HIGH LIFE

High Life is the second album from Eno/Hyde - a collaboration between Karl Hyde (of Underworld) and Brian Eno (of everything) - in as many months. Its predecessor, Someday World, was something of a surprise coming from them, considering its preponderance of pop melodies and forms. High Life feels like an extension of it, but is perhaps more of what we expected the first time around. There are far fewer vocals and melodies than on Someday World, much longer songs, and a continued fixation on rhythm. Even when those rhythms are tight and precise, High Life maintains a loose, casual, almost jammy vibe for most of its duration, particularly on songs like DBF and Lilac, which rides along for nine minutes, very gradually cresting into its climax. Opener Return is the standout, an instance in which the length and repetition of the music works as entrancing, gorgeous hypnosis. The same problems that plagued Someday World, however, remain. The production is dry and brittle in a lot of places where it probably shouldn't be; the little payoffs of the songs' subtle crescendos would be more rewarding if it didn't feel as if you were hearing a compressed approximation of lushness. And, once again, considering the creative firepower of having Eno and Hyde in a room together, it's frustrating that their work doesn't come off as more revelatory - or, at the very least, more fleshed-out. There's good stuff here, better stuff on Someday World, and the lingering promise on both that if their collaboration continues they could create something very special. As is stands, High Life has the sound of a half-finished addendum to a half-finished idea.


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