Clash OCTOBER 12, 2022 - by James Mellen


Nostalgic, melancholic, hopeful and hopeless - the master returns...

Few artists can compare to the legendary and pioneering status of ambient king Brian Eno. Since the creation of Roxy Music in 1971, Eno's influence and genius has been everywhere. You can hear the impact of Music For Airports on the Minecraft soundtrack, he mentored Fred again.. at the start of his career, he's worked with Damon Albarn. In short, Eno is easily one of the most defining artists ever, and even at the age of seventy-four he has given us another new album. His twenty-second, in fact.

FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE is a record generated from, in its purest form, feelings. Like much of his work, FOREVER has Eno building and crafting meticulously designed textures and soundscapes, all of which evoke a plethora of emotive concepts. Much of the album carries eerier undertones than previous efforts, giving implications of the feeling of modern-day nihilism and dread. Eno himself stated "we need to fall in love again... with our hopes for the future." Icarus or Blériot carries the torch for these feelings, building a sonic landscape that could come straight from a sci-fi dystopian film. Dissonant synthesised strings drop in and out sporadically, teasing that John Carpenter-style tension and anxiety. The backend of Inclusion is similar in this respect; jarring, yet muted, sounds appear out of the ambient fog, evoking apprehension - but also beauty.

But this record isn't just focused on more negative feelings. Closing track Making Gardens Out Of Silence is a beautiful (eight minute) moment on the album. Creating sheer beauty and hope with an artillery of synthesisers and equipment, Making Gardens drifts slowly and calmly, with futuristic, unintelligible vocal moments coming in as quickly as they go. The shimmering textures of There Were Bells meeting bird song is disjointed, but again creating an introspective angle. The music across FOREVER is pensive while also being brooding.

The record contains a steady balance of electronica and organic sounds; Baroque motifs are scattered throughout, along with almost hymn-style vocal work. All of this is set against the backdrop of drones and slowly shifting synth passages: Eno's sonic trademark. With an ideal balance of sparse moments and heavily superimposed ones, FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE has Eno executing exactly what his intentions were, which is to showcase twenty-first century feeling. Using primarily instrumental music to evoke the emotions he does is something rarely seen in music unless it is to accompany cinema.

FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE is nostalgic, melancholic, hopeful and hopeless, existentialist and nihilist. Brian Eno is one of the few artists who is able to convey the things he does by using so little, and FOREVER is a prime example of his mastery.