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The Independent APRIL 27, 2001 - by Andy Gill
ALBUMS: BRIAN ENO & J. PETER SCHWALM
Drawn From Life
A quarter-century ago, Brian Eno confirmed the visual aspect to his music by including in his Before And After Science album a series of pastel watercolour landscapes, to accompany the moody instrumental sketches that made up half that record. Drawn From Life could easily support a similar visual analogue, though it doesn't require it: even before Laurie Anderson murmurs Some things are just pictures four tracks into the album, it's virtually impossible to read these pieces any other way - it may sound ridiculous, but if anything, they're closer in spirit to visual art than music. But though obviously related to the ambient mode he pioneered, there's a subtle shape and momentum to these 11 tracks, due partly to Schwalm's intricate percussion, and partly to the string arrangements that hover like mist about them. Isolated keyboard chords settle like snowfall on high string pads, and in places the speculative tinkling of electric piano recalls the more reflective early-'70s work of Miles or Weather Report. There's enough similarity between the pieces to suggest they're intended to be taken, en masse, as a kind of suite - an impression heightened by the two lengthy pauses towards the end of the album, which lead gently towards the final silence.
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