Far Out OCTOBER 14, 2022 - by Jordan Potter


While he never became a stadium-filling rock star on the level of David Bowie, Bono or Chris Martin, Brian Eno deserves twice the reverence, not least because he was integral to such musicians' most daring and seminal material. After bidding farewell to Roxy Music in 1973, Eno embarked on a career like no other that came before nor will come again. Through the late 1970s and '80s, Eno had the Midas touch, bringing experimental depth to popular music, whether it was with David Bowie in Berlin or Talking Heads in New York.

Concurrently, Eno has upheld a trailblazing solo career in which he visualises music as a three-dimensional oil painting. With a varied palette, he sits at the very tip of the spearhead of sonic exploration, bringing vibrant colour to a range of emotions and issues.

This innovative catalogue has seen Eno venture into multi-instrumentalism, lyrical expression and, most notably, electronic experimentation. Following his tenure as Roxy Music's synth player, Eno continued to explore novel production methods, becoming one of ambient music's earliest and most prominent creators. While his solo and collaborative work have varied wildly over the past five decades, Eno's ambient endeavours have precipitated a central focus.

Today, I have the enormous pleasure of introducing you to Eno's latest creation, FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE. This twenty-secondnd solo effort marks the return of the seventy-four-year-old's vocals for the first time since 2005's Another Day On Earth, as he issues a poignant warning for the future of humanity.

In a press statement accompanying the album, Eno introduces FOREVERANDEVERNOMOREE by first explaining how the title pertains to the eco-conscious concept of the music. "Like everybody else - except, apparently, most of the governments of the world - I've been thinking about our narrowing, precarious future, and this music grew out of those thoughts," he says. "Perhaps it's more accurate to say I've been feeling about it... and the music grew out of the feelings. Those of us who share those feelings are aware that the world is changing at a super-rapid rate, and that large parts of it are disappearing forever... hence the album title. These aren't propaganda songs to tell you what to believe and how to act. Instead, they're my own exploration of my own feelings. The hope is that they will invite you, the listener, to share those experiences and explorations".

Adding: "It took me a long time to embrace the idea that we artists are actually feelings-merchants. Feelings are subjective. Science avoids them because they're hard to quantify and compare. But 'feelings' are the beginnings of thoughts and the long term attendants of them too. Feelings are the whole body reacting, often before the conscious brain has got into gear, and often with a wide lens that encompasses more than the brain is consciously aware of.

"Art is where we start to become acquainted with those feelings, where we notice them and learn from them - learn what we like and don't like - and from there they start to turn into actionable thoughts. Children learn through play; adults play through Art. Art gives you the space to 'have' feelings, but it comes with an off-switch: you can shut the book or leave the gallery. Art is a safe place to experience feelings - joyous ones and difficult ones. Sometimes those feelings are about things we long for, sometimes, they're about things we might want to avoid.

"I'm more and more convinced that our only hope of saving our planet is if we begin to have different feelings about it: perhaps if we became re-enchanted by the amazing improbability of life; perhaps if we suffered regret and even shame at what we've already lost; perhaps if we felt exhilarated by the challenges we face and what might yet become possible. Briefly, we need to fall in love again, but this time with Nature, with Civilisation and with our hopes for the future."

Much like a musical scientist, Eno toys with new ideas and pushes the bounds of perceived possibility, but as he mentions above, art opens the door to feeling, permitting entry to darkness or light. Despite the album's apocalyptic conceptual orientation, the tone is predominantly one of beauty as it portrays the natural world we seem to have turned our back on.

In the album's atmospheric opener, Who Gives A Thought, Eno sings of our increased detachment from the natural world as we continue widespread urbanisation. The sorrow in the vocals is juxtaposed with hope in the music, reflecting the natural world, which is still out there if we look.

The previously released single, We Let It In, continues the worship of nature. This time, the sun, the source of nature's power, is held under the light - so to speak - with gentle vocal accompaniments provided by Eno's daughter, Darla. Later, the narrative develops into a more tense atmosphere as Eno imagines Icarus' flight, which, as Greek mythology dictates, ends in disaster as his wings are burnt in proximity to the sun.

This celestial excursion continues through the powerful, almost explosive Garden Of Stars before returning to Earth in There Were Bells, the second single to preview the album. Eno uses ethereal textures accompanied by birdsong to stage a tranquil rainforest environment.

For me, There Were Bells marks the album's highlight with its soaring transition before Eno sings: "There were horns as loud as war, that tore apart the sky". The lyrics are suggestive of the human interruption of nature, and with the mention of war, one can't help but envisage armageddon.

Towards the album's close, These Small Noises raises the tempo with a demure keyboard-driven piece courtesy of longtime collaborator Jon Hopkins. In this track, Clodagh Simonds offers vocal accompaniment as Eno writes seemingly in retrospect of the apocalypse: "These small noises, all we died for."

Eno brings the album to a close with its longest track, Making Gardens Out Of Silence. This title ostensibly pertains to his idea of using sound (or lack of, in this case) to create the image of physical space, something the album achieves with conviction. The song appears to resemble new life in a post-apocalyptic world, now lacking the sound of humanity.

With FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE, Eno has once again shown the full breadth of his musical ambition, which stretches beyond music in a cinematic sense. As a concept album, it conveys a vital warning, underscored by Eno's sense of wonder and a musical portrayal of Earth's beauty. Therefore, as one would watch a film, it must be heard from start to finish. The project is difficult to fault, and the return of Eno's voice is more than welcome.

I look forward to hearing more from the master creator during his upcoming talk at London's Barbican Hall on October 23, where he will discuss his approach to three-dimensional sound, the environment and our current position in the world.