INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Electronic Sound AUGUST 2017 - by Mark Roland
With supermarkets stuffing their shelves with vinyl, traditional records are giving digital formats a run for their Bitcoin, with the old and new learning to coexist peacefully. Brian Eno is a man who treads that balance: a man of great history and yet someone who's just turned Coldplay's new single into a generative music app. Which is why I don't begrudge him this vinyl indulgence: the remastering of his first four solo albums.
Each work has been spruced up at Abbey Road and presented, of course, as deluxe gatefold packages. It's a chance to play all four back-to-back, despite having to wheeze up from my sofa twice as often to flip the disc.
The first pair, Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), have been cited as the Roxy Music releases that never were. This was Eno the showman, the musical pixie spouting nonsense lyrics to (literally) choreographed rhythm sections. There's much to admire, particularly the jangling art rock of Needles In The Camel's Eye and the urgent Third Uncle. But to my young(ish) ears, tracks like Blank Frank owe too much to glam. The introduction of his Oblique Strategies system did little to stem a menagerie of influences.
Then the ethereal Another Green World happened: an album that kicked out the rock pomp in favour of filmic instrumentals - a sweetly-scented record full of bucolic guitarwork summed up with the lyric "I'll come running to tie your shoes". Here was the showman turning into an adventurer, grasping at futuristic ideas that would change electronic music forever.
Eno was creating Music For Films' and Bowie's Berlin trilogy while he recorded the fourth album in this set. Before And After Science is his final "pop" album - but it's more than that. It's a long-player that wears its duality on its sleeve: half great pop bursting with immediacy and half moody ambience set in some intergalactic lounge; half in the past and half in the future. Not just a balance, but a tipping point.
I hope supermarket shoppers notice this as they chuck these records in the trolley with the baked beans and veg.