Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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The Wire JULY 2011 - by Clive Bell

BRIAN ENO & RICK HOLLAND: DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS

For almost a decade Brian Eno has been collaborating with poet Rick Holland. Following last year's joint installation at the Eno-curated Brighton Festival, here's a fifty minute album of Eno music with Holland texts, several drawn from his book Story The Flowers. We set off with bounce and brio: "Bless this space in sound and rhyme," intones Eno over cheerful drums, sounding like an archbishop reaching out to the young people. Suddenly there's a gleefully unhinged guitar solo - tongue in cheek? Well, maybe. Glitch has processed vocals and an organ wig-out like a Talking Heads song. This is Eno having fun, his feet up on the mixing desk.

Tracks are pop song length, and the words fit the melodies fairly tightly. Only they are recited, not sung. Eno draws on a cast of voices and a series of different accents, from his own orotund baritone to Caroline Wildi's precisely enunciating actress. You can hear Eno's interest in vocal timbres. Everything is warm and accessible, occasionally too much so: "Invent new colours that fly," breathes Wildi, and we hear synth notes spiralling, well, flying really, and the vibe is a tad educational.

Then, as if he has remembered that he's capable of creating real beauty, Eno aims higher. The Real stretches out as Elisha Mudly's voice is harmonised into chords, while The Airman pumps a slurry of low end under a looped chorus of "Where we are". This mid-album sequence is the equal of anything on Eno's 2005 record, Another Day On Earth. Elsewhere it's peppy but patchy.


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