Ever the iconoclast, if there is one thing that Brian Eno has done with any degree of consistency throughout his varied career, it is presenting his art in an array of perpetually "out of the box" forums. All that changed – in a manner of speaking – with the release of two companion multi-disc compilations. Eno Box I: Instrumentals (1994) condenses his wordless creations, while Eno Box II: Vocals (1993) does the same for the rest of his major works on a similarly sized volume. Interestingly – and in his typically contrary fashion – this initial installment was actually issued last. Each of Eno Box I: Instrumentals' three CDs respectively concentrates on a specific facet of the artist's copious back catalog.
Passengers is a collaboration between U2 and Brian Eno, so it should come as no surprise that the music on Original Soundtracks 1 is an extension of U2's last album, Zooropa. Under Eno's influence, the group incorporates more ambient electronic soundscapes, which unravel over the course of the album. In fact, Original Soundtracks 1 sounds more like a Brian Eno album than a U2 release, except when the band's knack for anthemic pop songwriting shines through every once and a while.
Brian Eno brings the first album in three and a half years. This Japanese edition features SHM-CD format, and includes four pieces of art prints and a 8-page booklet. Special packaging. Special Feature - a bonus track for Japan. The Ship marks Brian Eno's first ambient album since 2012's Lux. Work on the album began as a 3-D sound installation in Stockholm, but altered to stereo when Eno realized he could sing in a low C, The Ship's root note. The Ship contains two works, the 21-minute title track, and the three-part "Fickle Sun." The title piece, a reflection on the sinking of the Titanic, recalls a moment in his distant past: he released Gavin Bryars' Sinking of the Titanic on his Obscure Music label in 1975.
Music for Films, Vol. 3, is a set of mismatched pieces by Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (aka Eno). They are from his voluminous works for cinema, installations, shorts, and other related media. The disc contains 15 short pieces (only one is over five minutes). In that regard, there is a distinct similarity to his new wave pop music from the '70s. This CD is, however, all instrumental, largely electronic, and distinctly Eno. Despite their dissimilar origins, these tracks have definite cohesion. Eno injects avant-garde timbres and metallic textures into each composition. The flow is smooth, the atmospheres are vast, and the soundscapes are vivid. This is a very cool montage of Eno's work.
According to several of the seven mixes on the CD EP Ali Click, "Brian's been amusing his friends by chewing on some plastic flashbulbs." "Ali Click" the tune, originally released on Eno's superb Nerve Net, is a groovy, rhythmic techno rocker perfectly suitable for creating dance mixes. Eno's sound-over-sense lyrics, presented in rap-like rhymes, heighten the composition's appeal. The closing track, "I Fall Up," is the real climax here. Originally recorded for Eno's unreleased My Squelchy Life (1993), this cut is also included on the three-CD box set, Brian Eno: Vocal. Like "Ali Click," "I Fall Up" is abundant with choice phoenetic jabberwocky ("More volts/I'm sucking the juice from the generator/Burn up/turn into a lanky housemaid/Sail up/I'm cackling off to the Congo")…
High Life, the second collaboration between Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde, began immediately after the completion of Someday World. Its release follows a mere two months later. While some traits of the former are present here – a heavy reliance on African-sourced rhythms, and hypnotically repetitive keyboard and bassline – it is a very different companion. While the pair relied on more formal "song forms" on Someday World, High Life is looser. These six tracks place more value on jamming. The centerpiece is Hyde's guitar. It's front and center throughout, with myriad rhythm tracks close behind. A two-chord reinvention of Chuck Berry's signature riff commences album-opener "Return" before becoming subsumed in sonic treatments and Edge-like sounds.
Drums Between the Bells is a collaboration by producer Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland. It was recorded just after Eno finished work on 2010's Small Craft on a Milk Sea, his debut for Warp, and it followed on the release schedule less than a year later. In that sense, the timing was good for such a risky project. Music and poetry are often difficult companions, and combining them is best left to experts; fortunately, Eno is just such an expert. Although Holland is an obscure poet, he first came to Eno’s notice back in the late ‘90s (through a university project), and his poetry is very good. Although his words and thoughts are impressionistic, his themes are easier to peg: urban living, science, and the intersection of philosophy and biology. The music is almost entirely Eno’s own, with only a few tracks featuring guest credits – much less so than his previous album. While scattered moments here prove that percussion is still not his strong suit, the production is inviting, innovative, and a larger contributor to the general excellence of the record than the poetry.
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…
Brian Eno will soon issue expanded versions of four of his albums originally released in the 1990s Nerve Net (1992), The Shutov Assembly (1992), Neroli (1993) and The Drop (1997) will each be reissued as a two-CD deluxe editions containing the original album and an additional disc of unreleased and rare Eno work specific to each record. Nerve Net includes the first ever commercial release of lost Eno album My Squelchy Life; The Shutov Assembly features an album’s worth of unreleased recordings from the same period; Neroli includes an entire unreleased hour-long Eno ambient work New Space Music; and The Drop includes nine rarely heard tracks from the Eno archives. Each album comes in deluxe casebound packaging and is accompanied by a 16-page booklet compiling photos, images and writing by Eno that is relevant to each release.
Both Brian Eno and John Cale have always flirted with conventional pop music throughout their careers, while reserving the right to go off on less accessible experiments, which means they've always held out the promise that they would make something as attractive as this synthesizer-dominated collection, on which Eno comes as close to the mainstream as he has since Another Green World and Cale is as catchy as he's been since Honi Soit. The result is one of the best albums either one has ever made. [A 2005 reissue added two bonus tracks: "Grandfather's House" and "You Don't Miss Your Water."]