Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Green World (1975)

Brian Eno's best album is altogether a quiet and gentle affair, though it opens with a rasping guitar noise and goes on to entertain various pop flourishes ("I'll come running to tie your shoes") and an almost comical range of textures, all in the service of its high concept (see title). Once upon a time I was more eager to argue the merits of Taking Tiger Mountain, which preceded it, or Before and After Science, which followed it. But if I were somehow forced to keep only one, a choice I would truly hate to have to make, this would be it now. It's alluring and seductive and sounds as fresh today as it did 35 years ago, an album to play every day. And not just that. It's something you can play several times a day, in practically any context, alone, with others, first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening, on a lunch break, taking a long hike in the mountains, on airplanes, or as pre-show music for practically any band in the land (now I'm getting carried away). Some of the 14 songs here are quite short, less than two minutes, though in memory it's hard to remember which are the short and which the long, or even to come away with any precise sense of any of their lengths at all. They seem to exist outside of time almost, embracing and immersive. Many are instrumentals. A few are straight-up pop songs, complete with hooks, chorus, verses, and melodies fit to sing and occupy one's head. Many are explicit about what they intend to convey: "In Dark Trees," "Sombre Reptiles," "Little Fishes," "Golden Hours," "Spirits Drifting." And while, as promised, it is indeed otherworldly as a whole, it never feels particularly cerebral or overly detached or as if it is trying to be any more than what it is. A number of the usual suspects are on hand here and there for the festivities, most notably John Cale, Phil Collins, and Robert Fripp. I should probably say something about the Oblique Strategies deck of cards, but I'm pretty sure that has been covered adequately elsewhere.

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