Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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Stereophile FEBRUARY 5, 2021 - by Phil Brett

BRIAN ENO: FILM MUSIC 1976-2020

Music from soundtracks is a funny beast: Can the music be judged fairly on its own merits, without visuals? What if it brilliantly complements the scene but isn't much fun to listen to without it? What if the opposite is true?

Whatever the answers to these questions, with this Brian Eno compilation, the music has to stand alone, if for no other reason than that I've only seen a third of the television shows and films they're sourced from.

Not that it loses out on that score (pun intended). Famously, Eno often composes soundtracks without seeing the film. And he has repeatedly proved that, among his many other attributes, he is an accomplished composer.

There are some simply beautiful pieces of music here. Sonically, this music has a clear but warm feel, across a range of styles, whether that's Prophecy Theme, which is majestic, sounding cathedral in scope, or the exquisite delicacy of Ship In A Bottle. The standout track, Final Sunset, reminds me of the work he did with David Bowie on Low.

With any album, there are likely to be tracks that don't click, and with a compilation spanning forty years, all the more so. That's true here: Deep Blue Day and You Don't Miss Your Water sound like country and western music with synths. Musical mashups can be fun, but they aren't always. Listening to these tracks made my teeth ache.

Despite the varying shades of tone and the years that separate the tracks, this is an album that hangs together. It's more than background music, whether to a movie or to one's own life. Film Music is something to lose yourself in.


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