"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The Guardian MAY 22, 2005 - by Matthew Collin
BRIAN ENO: ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH
He's not just brainy - the great swot of music has remembered how to write pop songs. Matthew Collin is absolutely delighted.
There's no one quite like Brian Eno, English pop's leading intellectual thinker and questing renaissance man. He has been responsible for so many leaps of imagination over the past thirty years, from the 1970s, when he brought the avant-garde to the mainstream as keyboard noise-maker with Roxy Music, to his invention of an entire genre - ambient music.
Eno was last seen campaigning for disaffected Labour voters to switch their electoral allegiance to the Liberal Democrats in protest at the decision to go to war in Iraq. Now he's released his thirteenth solo album, and those who identify him as an architect of instrumental atmospheres may be surprised to hear that it's a record made up almost entirely of songs.
Of course Eno has sung - and worked with songs - successfully before; his first solo records after leaving Roxy Music (Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)) were quirkily attractive songcycles, while he has also produced headline albums for U2 and Talking Heads, among countless others. His voice is contemplative and unassuming, the very opposite of rock'n'roll swagger.
While echoes of the ether-borne electronics of ambient works such as Another Green World drift amid the lightly shuffling rhythms, and chiming guitars pick out elegiac melodies, the sound is closer to Peter Gabriel if he had been produced by Massive Attack.
There are grand, sweeping choruses here that insinuate themselves deep into the memory, but also moments of whispering intimacy that seem to have been recorded in extreme close-up. This is a wistful, haunting record that runs warm with understated emotion - perhaps what one might expect of a man in his late fifties who surveys the beauty and the terrors of the world around him and wonders how it's all possible.
Burn it: Going Unconscious; A Long Way Down; And Then So Clear