Brian Eno – Before And After Science (1977)

AllMusic Review: Before and After Science is really a study of “studio composition” whereby recordings are created by deconstruction and elimination: tracks are recorded and assembled in layers, then selectively subtracted one after another, resulting in a composition and sound quite unlike that at the beginning of the process. Despite the album’s pop format, the sound is unique and strays far from the mainstream. Eno also experiments with his lyrics, choosing a sound-over-sense approach. When mixed with the music, these lyrics create a new sense or meaning, or the feeling of meaning, a concept inspired by abstract sound poet Kurt Schwitters (epitomized on the track “Kurt’s Rejoinder,” on which you actually hear samples from Schwitters’ “Ursonate”). Before and After Science opens with two bouncy, upbeat cuts: “No One Receiving,” featuring the offbeat rhythm machine of Percy Jones and Phil Collins (Eno regulars during this period), and “Backwater.” Jones’ analog delay bass dominates on the following “Kurt’s Rejoinder,” and he and Collins return on the mysterious instrumental “Energy Fools the Magician.” The last five tracks (the entire second side of the album format) display a serenity unlike anything in the pop music field. These compositions take on an occasional pastoral quality, pensive and atmospheric. Cluster joins Eno on the mood-evoking “By This River,” but the album’s apex is the final cut, “Spider and I.” With its misty emotional intensity, the song seems at once sad yet hopeful. The music on Before and After Science at times resembles Another Green World (“No One Receiving”) and Here Come the Warm Jets (“King’s Lead Hat”) and ranks alongside both as the most essential Eno material. — David Ross Smith

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “No One Receiving” 3:52
2. “Backwater” 3:43
3. “Kurt’s Rejoinder” 2:55
4. “Energy Fools the Magician” (arranged by Percy Jones, Eno) 2:04
5. “King’s Lead Hat” 3:56
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Here He Comes” 5:38
2. “Julie With …” 6:19
3. “By This River” (Eno, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius) 3:03
4. “Through Hollow Lands” (for Harold Budd) (arranged by Fred Frith, Eno) 3:56
5. “Spider and I” 4:10

 

 

Schill Score: 4/10

 

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Brian Eno – Another Green World (1975)

AllMusic Review: A universally acknowledged masterpiece, Another Green World represents a departure from song structure and toward a more ethereal, minimalistic approach to sound. Despite the stripped-down arrangements, the album’s sumptuous tone quality reflects Eno’s growing virtuosity at handling the recording studio as an instrument in itself (à la Brian Wilson). There are a few pop songs scattered here and there (“St. Elmo’s Fire,” “I’ll Come Running,” “Golden Hours”), but most of the album consists of deliberately paced instrumentals that, while often closer to ambient music than pop, are both melodic and rhythmic; many, like “Sky Saw,” “In Dark Trees,” and “Little Fishes,” are highly imagistic, like paintings done in sound that actually resemble their titles. Lyrics are infrequent, but when they do pop up, they follow the free-associative style of albums past; this time, though, the humor seems less bizarre than gently whimsical and addled, fitting perfectly into the dreamlike mood of the rest of the album. Most of Another Green World is like experiencing a soothing, dream-filled slumber while awake, and even if some of the pieces have dark or threatening qualities, the moments of unease are temporary, like a passing nightmare whose feeling lingers briefly upon waking but whose content is forgotten. Unlike some of his later, full-fledged ambient work, Eno’s gift for melodicism and tight focus here keep the entirety of the album in the forefront of the listener’s consciousness, making it the perfect introduction to his achievements even for those who find ambient music difficult to enjoy. — Steve Huey

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Sky Saw” 3:25
2. “Over Fire Island” 1:49
3. “St. Elmo’s Fire” 3:02
4. “In Dark Trees” 2:29
5. “The Big Ship” 3:01
6. “I’ll Come Running” 3:48
7. “Another Green World” 1:38
Total length: 19:12
Side two
No. Title Length
8. “Sombre Reptiles” 2:26
9. “Little Fishes” 1:30
10. “Golden Hours” 4:01
11. “Becalmed” 3:56
12. “Zawinul/Lava” 3:00
13. “Everything Merges with the Night” 3:59
14. “Spirits Drifting” 2:36
Total length: 21:12 (40:24)

 

Schill Score: 2/10

Schill Comment:  This album has no direction.  It often just breaks down into meandering ambient noise.  Some of Eno’s other ambient type music is enjoyable.  This one is not. There are sections that actually hurt your ears to listen to

 

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Brian Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets (1974)

AllMusic Review: Eno’s solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, is a spirited, experimental collection of unabashed pop songs on which Eno mostly reprises his Roxy Music role as “sound manipulator,” taking the lead vocals but leaving much of the instrumental work to various studio cohorts (including ex-Roxy mates Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, plus Robert Fripp and others). Eno’s compositions are quirky, whimsical, and catchy, his lyrics bizarre and often free-associative, with a decidedly dark bent in their humor (“Baby’s on Fire,” “Dead Finks Don’t Talk”). Yet the album wouldn’t sound nearly as manic as it does without Eno’s wildly unpredictable sound processing; he coaxes otherworldly noises and textures from the treated guitars and keyboards, layering them in complex arrangements or bouncing them off one another in a weird cacophony. Avant-garde yet very accessible, Here Come the Warm Jets still sounds exciting, forward-looking, and densely detailed, revealing more intricacies with every play. — Steve Huey

Track Listing:

All tracks are written by Brian Eno, except where noted.

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Needles in the Camel’s Eye” Eno, Phil Manzanera 3:11
2. “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” 3:04
3. “Baby’s on Fire” 5:19
4. “Cindy Tells Me” Eno, Manzanera 3:25
5. “Driving Me Backwards” 5:12
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “On Some Faraway Beach” 4:36
2. “Blank Frank” Eno, Robert Fripp 3:37
3. “Dead Finks Don’t Talk” Eno; arranged by Paul Thompson, Busta Jones, Nick Judd, Eno 4:19
4. “Some of Them Are Old” 5:11
5. “Here Come the Warm Jets” 4:04

 

 

Schill Score: 7.5/10

 

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