"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Under The Radar APRIL 29, 2016 - by Marty Hill
BRIAN ENO: THE SHIP
Brian Eno's intentions will never cease to be helplessly rooted in discovery. Strikingly modest for a man with such colossal cultural impact and a production résumé boasting John Cage, David Bowie, and John Cale to name a few, Eno is unrivaled in his influence on the dynamics of modern electronic music. He's synonymous with the creation of ambient, and his quietest works are often his best, expect for perhaps the scathing art-rock flair of his debut solo record Here Come The Warm Jets. His music isn't known for bearing extreme weight and uncomfortable drone motifs. The Ship is an uncharacteristically loaded LP.
Eno's undying desire to challenge the very idea of what music can be is still burning on. The harmonic textures that he crafts on the record are rarely underpinned by any kind of traditional rhythmic drive, building and collapsing as they please. It can be hard to become completely immersed - The Ship is eerie and loose but it struggles to articulate its emotional weight, with the closing re-imagining of The Velvet Underground's I'm Set Free the exception. Fickle Sun (i) is an overpowering highlight, its doomed march peaking in ferocity around the half-way point, piercing synthesizers fading out just short of becoming utterly overbearing. It's anything but discreet. The opening title track was a relatively captivating establishing shot, but didn't twist and jolt quite the way a record as fluent in ornate electronics could have. Fickle Sun (i) does so.
English actor and comedian Peter Serafinowicz's guest appearance in reciting a digitally generated poem could have been off-putting, since comedy and ambient music belong in different worlds; his delivery is impassioned as Eno's minimal composition ticks on - it's surprisingly arresting. The Ship sees Eno try his hand with the darker, cinematic side of minimal, and for the most part it works. The melancholic catalysts for the record (The First World War and the sinking of the Titanic) don't transcend quite as powerfully as they could have, though.