INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Chicago Tribune JULY 5, 2011 - by Greg Kot
BRIAN ENO AND RICK HOLLAND: DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS
Eno's resume is loaded with enough big names (collaborations with U2, Talking Heads, Coldplay) and ground-breaking music to ensure that just about anything he works on will receive attention. His focus recently has been on collaborations with relative unknowns in which he tries to reinvigorate longtime passions: ambient music, disruptive noise, soundtracks for movies real and imagined. Last year's Small Craft On A Milk Sea, with guitarist Leo Abrahams and electronic musician Jon Hopkins, and the newly minted Drums Between The Bells (Warp) with poet Brian Holland, don't break ground, but serve as pleasant place-holders for Eno obsessives.
On Drums Between The Bells, Eno does most of the playing; he creates instrumental soundscapes for Holland's poetry, which is spoken and occasionally sung by a variety of anonymous vocalists drawn from Eno's everyday life. Most are stark meditations on a world trying to maintain its equilibrium in a technological landslide. The readings are stately, deadpan to a fault, a neutral element that gives Eno plenty of latitude. But in typical fashion, he mostly stays out of the way; whether employing abrasive electronics (Glitch) or sparse piano (Dreambirds), conjuring ocean mist (The Real) or a sad circus (Cloud 4). Minimalism, as usual, is in. There's even a track called Silence, which pretty much sums up one of Eno's favorite sounds - he's always been a master of knowing what not to play. Only Sounds Alien, with its horn-punctuated aggression, feels like it doesn't belong on this smoothly programmed mood piece.