Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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The Times APRIL 19, 2024 - by Will Hodgkinson

ENO'S WEIRD WORLD ISN'T SO WEIRD

This soundtrack collects Brian Eno's witty, colourful solo highlights, says Will Hodgkinson

BRIAN ENO: ENO OST - In true egghead style Gary Hustwit's new documentary on Brian Eno couldn't just be the usual rags, riches, drugs, debauchery and saying-sorry-about-it-all story. Generative software has been developed for it in order that each viewer will watch the film in a different sequence. This means you might begin with Eno hanging out in the studio with U2 as they conjure up Pride (In The Name Of Love) and end up with Eno looking like a glam-rock version of Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show as he twiddles the knobs of his Moog keyboard on Top Of The Pops for Roxy Music's 1972 masterpiece Virginia Plain.

It is a typical technology-forward approach by someone for whom the process of creativity seems to have been as important. it not more so. than the actual creativity itself. As the film's soundtrack proves, however, Eno more conventional - and appealing - musician than his ultra-intellectual image suggests.

Collected here are various highlights Universal from Eno's post-Roxy Music solo career to the present day. It isn't a greatest hits album - he didn't nave any hits, greatest or otherwise - nut rather an illustration of how witty and colourful his output is. Third Uncle from 1974 is a frantic proto-punk forward charge that lists everything from tins to pork to the singer's mother: God knows what it means. but it is exciting enough to make putting your boot through a plate-glass window seem like a great idea Against an eerie metallic guitar sound on 1975's Sky Saw, Eno lays out his lyrical approach: "All the words float in sequence. No one knows what they mean. Everyone just ignores them." It took someone of Eno's mischievousness to spell out that so much songwriting is simply a case of sticking together random words that sound good against the music.

Elsewhere are examples of Eno's belief in the power of the "scenius" - his idea thar the nest art comes out of teamwork, not solitary endeavour. Spinning Away, a co-write with John Cale from 1990, sounds like the kind of light, cheerful pop Vampire Weekend might have come up with, while Cmon, a collaboration with the DJ of the moment (and Eno's former neighbour) Fred Again.., floats about on a pleasant cloud of ambient calm.

Sometimes Eno's belief in his own innovation appears to get the better of him: Fractal Zoom is essentially mediocre Ibiza rave and Lighthouse #429 sounds like AI-generated drum and bass. In the main, though, this soundtrack shines a light on the rarely celebrated fact that Brian Eno is much better at the traditional elements that make music great - melody, hooks. fun, invention - than perhaps even he likes to admit.


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