INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
D-Ark Rumours SEPTEMBER 2002 - by Thanassis Athanasopoulos
BRIAN ENO: THE NOTTING HILL FILES
Over-productive, highly valued amongst producers in the music industry. Brian Eno is the man who early-on realised that sound in any form could exist outside the limits of the brain cells. He's the inventor of 'ambient music' and the producer for whom anyone would sell their souls to have in their studio.
"You find me in a shoe-crisis," he says as soon as I enter his Notting Hill studio. His left foot in a trainer while his right one seeks for the other trainer with a Stonehenge-sized flip-flop. A quick look at the studio. Not too big, consisting of two personal computers, half a dozen portable CD-players and a mixing-desk in a quite small room. A great number of books (not necessarily music ones) and some vinyl records. Somewhere behind a curtain there is a dusty M1 workstation as well as a DX7 in the same condition, not to forget a Grammy award which is standing above drawers displaying a sticker labelled 'various herbs'.
As I stand beside a staircase in the middle of the room his 'Brianess' arrives with a bottle of lager. Far from his image in the '70s, he is enjoying his fifties as a common grey-and-missing-hair man of rather short height with an ocre rage.
Well, I'm not going to ask you about the past, because I've heard it.
"I'm just resting but I have some plans for the near future," he replies. "I'm going to record some material with Robert Fripp and I can't wait to start. He's on tour with King Crimson." (King Crimson were then supporting Tool on their US tour)
Wait a minute, are you going to work with Robert Fripp again?
"Yes," he says calmly, he is very much into percussion now and experimenting with it. I guess this will sound more like African music. I'm a big fan of African music.
Someone is calling him and I stay there sharing this great news with myself for the moment. After a couple of beers I see him again.
Most people think that you turn images into sound. Is this the way you work?
Well, I can't say that he's not surprised, because he's obviously heard this question a lot of times before. "What I have in mind is a sound and what I am trying to do is to give the sounds a structure so that they appear as a whole. Sometimes I have a picture in my mind but this doesn't remain as the 'picture' of the track, it changes every time I work on it. Some say that my music is ideal for pictures and I agree with them but it is not in the form of an image that exists before the sound."
As a producer he has invented the 'Oblique Strategies' which consist of cards of which you select one randomly when you face a problem in the studio. What do they say? Try something else, Check your team etc.
"It is very useful when you work under pressure. It was just what I was thinking when I was working in the studio. I said 'Hang on, you can write down your thoughts and have them available any time you are under stress'."
He has sold them to a couple of producers he says but he doesn't think they are going to be a best seller.
And what about the Roxy Music reunion for a British tour?
"Yes, they asked me to take part but I said no for two reasons: First I don't like touring and second, it's no fun anymore."
This was a message to the rest of the band from which Brian Eno escaped and dared to experiment on his own.
Time for Peter Schwalm, the young German co-writer of Drawn From Life:
"I had no sense of being with my hero while working on the album. Brian is a colleague, he can listen to you and he has let me do what I had in mind."
Earlier, when he checked his list with our names he looked at my first name in ecstasy.
He asked what it means in Greek and became more excited. However, I mentioned that it's not as exciting as his full name, Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, which he carried until he joined his first band, Maxwell Demon. Not a name for a career, is it?