Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES

New Musical Express January 20, 1979 - by Angus MacKinnon

MEMO FROM EURO-CHIC CENTRAL

ENO MOEBIUS RODELIUS: AFTER THE HEAT / CONRAD SCHNITZLER: CON / WOLFGANG REICHMANN: WUNDERBAR

Missive received from Euro-Chic Central, memo attached reads: "Enclosed three items as scheduled. Suggest appropriate swift-sell terminology, e.g. 'More modern metal mood-music machine music made in West Germany' or 'Hi-fashion fun for all the future-present family.' Ends."

After The Heat is the second Eno and Cluster collaboration and, although probably recorded at the same time as the non-committal Cluster & Eno, a much better brand and brew. Quite why I'm not sure, but After The Heat seems a more purposeful proposition and anyone taken with Eno's own exemplary Music For Films will warm to this like fleas to flesh.

.Although their penchant for soft-screen electronic soundscaping has very finite limitations, E & C consistently avoid obvious and overt repetition of texture and timbre. Most of the ten sketches here are essentially simple and schematic, relying more on technique and treatment than on innate sense and structure. The titles are not so much descriptive as suggestive: you can dream or doze them anywhichway you want.

The concurrent triptych of Luftschloß, The Shade and Old Land is notably atmospheric and impressionistic, discreet or direct, your own choice, descendant from Debussy and Ravel. Over on side two, Bass & Apex tops the tanks, a churning, visceral riff-cycle based on an almost Gregorian scale, a courtly cyber-dance.

Broken Head also scores steadily, despite Eno's intoning speciously 'alienated' - and alienating (singing, oh how I wish he would stop) - lyrics; a disco-negative robo-stomp rolling and stumbling with neo-Frippertronic guitars, it could just as easily have sparked off Bowie's Beauty And The Beast.

Fortunately The Belldog, a chill counterpoint of electric and electronic instrumentation, also overrides its adEnoidal verbiage, whereas T'Zima N'arki doesn't - even the slice 'n' saw basslines of Can's Holger Czukay can't overcome the tape-twitched inanity of Eno's 'Arabic' vocals.

But, lyrical lapses aside, After The Heat makes sound sense. Reichmann's Wunderbar, however, is far from wonderful. A Dusseldorfer whose credentials escape me, he presents himself as a Kraftwerk cast-off wearing blue-face, black shirt and blue tie and programmes all his machines himself.

What a clever clone. The results are hopelessly derivative. Muddle and merge Kraftwerk, Neu and Tangerine Dream into a lowest common (market) denominator and leave it at that. No, just leave it. Pointless opportunism.

Meanwhile, Conrad Schnitzler was once a member of T. Dream but, like his producer Peter Baumann, seems to have survived to tell another tale. Con is a mostly intelligent and articulate electronic album.

Electric Garden opens uncertainly, an unfortunate revamp of the sequencer format Herbie Hancock deployed on Sextant's Rain Dance. Possibly acidental but certainly incidental, it segues into Ballet Statique, a simple, unadorned syn-circle of surprising charm.

But side two is the one, ambitiously environmental, distinctly unsettling and infinitely more industrial than anything tossed off by the endlessly culpable Throbbing Gristle. Zug, Metall 1 and Black Nails are mechanical in the most literal sense: machine sound, neither music or muzak

Missive returned to Euro-Chic Central, memo attached reads: "Enclosed three items as processed. Suggest deletion of all swift-sell copy. Contents better served by emphasis on merit nit modernity. Ends."


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