INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Guardian MAY 12, 2010 - by John L. Walters
THIS IS PURE SCENIUS!
Given Brian Eno's reputation as the original egghead of pop, it is easy to forget how funny and charming he can be. But there he was, the artistic director of this year's Brighton Festival, cracking jokes in front of a supergroup that included Australia's The Necks and Underworld's Karl Hyde, with Jon Hopkins on synthesizer and Leo Abrahams on guitar. They kicked off the second of three ninety-minute performances on the festival's opening Sunday with a thumping racket that sounded like the last five minutes of an earlier concert - the old Raiders Of The Lost Ark trick.
Then a pause - and a lecture. Eno's whimsical conceit was that we were the class of 2069 for Cultural Reconstructions, recreating a time before 2042's Great Pulse erased all digital music, leaving nothing but a few doo-wop LPs and classical scores.
The music that followed ranged from dense improvisations to acoustic trance; soundscape to art-rock. Some segments sounded remarkably Eno-ish without Eno seeming to do much himself, others more like The Necks. Guiltily, I found myself wishing the others would shut up so I could hear what drummer Tony Buck, bassist Lloyd Swanton and pianist Chris Abrahams might conjure as a trio.
My wish was granted. Eno had thoughtfully provided a sofa (with fruit bowl) where the other musicians could chill, a reminder of his day job as record producer to the stars. But Eno was also the front man, singing and chanting, and on one occasion intoning "What if" while Hyde improvised bizarre phrases over the synths and chiming guitar. Eno's ability to bring experimental music to a broad audience remains undimmed and unequalled.