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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Brian Eno
Ambient Works

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 1, 2004

I tend to respect an artist who describes himself primarily as a non-musician. There's something genuine and naive about such a statement. Brian Eno does that. And when it comes to opening the musical vault and encyclopaedic knowledge about him, a load of stuff goes without saying. His atmospheric works are nearly impossible to pin down, though also impossible to ignore. One thing is for sure, and should be written in stone: Eno is a master of disguise. Best known for treating his instruments - rather than actually playing them - he has never left anyone indifferent.

Some people argue that Eno's take on ambient music leads to an oppressive and insipid state of mind. Whether you dismiss his pieces right away or you sink your teeth in them as if there was no tomorrow, you will agree that they definitely stir your blood and have your head floating in space for, at least, a couple of minutes.

When a record is put in motion, and you take off on pigeon wings, it means that the composer is either a genius or had a momentary lapse of reason and crashed into the cotton of musical calmness. By the end of the record, you will be asking for more or will mercilessly bump into the floor, apprehensive and reluctant to go back to his slow-motion assault. Icarus had his wings melted by the sun and sunk in the ocean, but he foresaw a centuries-old dream that would soon become true.

So it's all about the experimentation kick, the breaking of primeval codes and having the guts to challenge the world with innovative and overdriven material. Brian Eno has been tearing down a supermarket list of universal music laws since he broke free from the Roxy Music's ashes. His intrinsically rendered Ambient Works, from the mid- and late-70s, now receive a proper reissue extravaganza via Astralwerks - Simon Heyworth was the man behind the demanding job of transferring this great sonic legacy from the original master tapes.

This reissue spree consists of four records, namely Discreet Music, Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (with Harold Budd) and Ambient 4: On Land. As the press release points out, all four albums have been mastered using what sound engineers call Class A analogue electronics, combined with the very best analogue-to-digital conversion. The CDs are packaged in digipack format, a luxurious move considering the lateness (but always very welcome) of the unearthing process.

From the 6-track sampler handed out to the Lost At Sea masterminds, the splendid and shimmering "Excerpt from Discreet Music" and the blustery "Wind in Lonely Fences" are obvious stances. The latter is a collaborative effort between Harold Budd and Eno, and encompasses a solidifying, architectural sound work, that will both levitate you and throw you against the walls. "Lizard Point" is like a sponge, sucking every liquid emotional symptom around, from a salty tear to a sweaty drop from your neck. Two words: chilling, tantalizing.

I'm sure Brian Eno doesn't squeeze his balls to sound coherent or pretty articulate, but very often his Ambient Works do acquire a plot dimension that no one has managed to outdo. So, there you go: a music review of Eno's early work that will not have you clenching your jaw out of anger. Call his music boring or elitist; I call it the most magnificent acoustic aurora borealis.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes



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