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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Brain Eno - Another green world - 1975

Bryan Ferry proved his intelligence and imagination when Roxy Music formed in 1971. An elegant singer, lover of the glamour of fifties music, with a hot crooner voice, surrounded by ambitious experimental players and an excellent musical education; that is, Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andrew McKay (wind instruments), Paul Thompson (drums) and Brian Eno (synthesizers and tapes) and made of the music of his group -and I emphasize his- a unique and picturesque case in the long history of rock -I am making reference to the first works of the band - an interesting cocktail of glam-pop and avant rock -experimental.

Certainly -and that is why I stressed the “his” previously”- it was Ferry who made and unmade everything in the group, as the tenacious leader, or rather, tyrannical dictator of Roxy Music; not in vain, to his name and, to a extent that of Manzanera and McKay the royalties of the group were registered. Given this strong discipline, Eno tried to develop his Enormous musical restlessness, in the arrangements and in the interpretation of the pieces signed by Ferry, 100% of the songs of the first two disks, "Roxy Music" (1972) and "For Your Pleasure" (1973). In this way, his contribution to songs such as "Ladytron", "2.H.B.", "Chance Meeting", "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" and mainly "The Bogus Man", in which he uses fully the «restless» synthesisers, filling the sound of the group with brilliant dissonances and sound waves, even relegating to the background the voice of Ferry ("In The Bogus Man" the instrumental part is unusually long and directed in all moment by the keys of Eno), or supplementing it to perfection, by way of exceptional contrast. The growing presence of Eno in the interpretations of the group, his desire for participation, creation, his defiance of the emblematic figure of the leader, seem to be the fundamental reasons that led Ferry to fire him, substituting him (showing again his intelligence and sharp eye), by another jewel, Eddie Jobson. However, Roxy Music sound ambitions would relax progressively from then on until really to disappear, as shown from the following LP, "Stranded" (1973).

Parallelly to Roxy Music’s imaginative and exploratory decline, the progressive musical apogee of Eno took place, as well as in his solo works as in his multiple collaborations with other artists. His style has been essential for the music of the last 25 years. He opened the eyes (the ears in fact) of the fans of Krautrock, one of the main, more peculiar, influential and, certainly, experimental movements of the «progressive genre», with their singular amalgam of electronic, psychedelic, cosmic inspirations, jazz... He has participated actively (interpretation works, composition and production) in the most ambitious albums of a musician of the relevance and fame of David Bowie, this is, in "Low" (1977), "Heroes" (1977) and "Lodger" (1979). He has recorded albums jointly with Robert Fripp, Cluster, David Byrne, John Cale, Jan Wooble, Harold Budd, Kevin Ayers... He has played in works of Phil Manzanera, Robert Wyatt, Talking Heads, Camel ("Elke" of the album "Rain Dances", where the Minimoog plays, acoustic and electric pianos, «random notes» and bells), Quiet Sun, Peter Gabriel, Robert Calvert, Brown Penguin Orchestra, Jon Hassell... He has produced albums of Devo, Talking Heads, U2... He has published in his record labels (Obscure Records and Opal) works of Gavin Bryars, David Toop, John White, Harold Budd, Michael Nyman -in reference to "Decay Music" (1976) -, Laraaji, Roger Eno. As Antonio de Miguel says in his article about Eno in the Rock Encyclopedia of the Spanish daily newspaper El País from 1986, nobody would had ever published something like this. His name is an essential inspiration for diverse movements: Punk, Techno, New Age, New Wave, Ambient, Electronic and, certainly, for the thinking heads of the musical vanguard, but also of the plastic arts, of the last quarter of the XX century.

The attitude of Eno in the world of music is far away of the virtuous style of other keyboard players -in reference to, for example, Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman - and it could be said that he is, above all, a restless and exploratory character, and in fact this has made him a more excellent and lasting figure in the history of contemporary music (understand as contemporary the last quarter of the century, «current»?). Eno is an explorer, an alchemist, a scientist, an adventurer, an experimenter. Antonio de Miguel in his article says that when he was twenty years old, “he started to search for music, he never sought to be a virtuoso, not even a great musician; his approach was naïf, temperamental, explorer. He sustained his behavior in the no-musician theory, ahead of the opinion of critics and public".

"Another green world" is, without a doubt, one of his better works, an exceptional transition from the electronic pop music of "Here Come The Warm Jets" and "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)", his first two solo albums, towards the minimalist ambient of the series Ambient, of "Music For Films", of "Apollo", "Atmospheres And Soundtracks... "

The album is composed by a group of compositions sung in the line of his first works and of a series of instrumental pieces precursors of the ambient style.

In the instrumental compositions, Eno creates authentic sound atmospheres, built on really simple rhythm and melodic structures, vastly minimalist, but with an extraordinary exploratory and experimental desire. They are short pieces in which he recreates to perfection the mysterious, exotic, fantastic, enigmatic, delicate, calm and dreamy meaning expressed by the titles: "Over Fire Island", "In Dark Trees", "The Big Ship", "Another green world", "Sombre Reptiles". "Little Fishes", "Becalmed", "Zawinul Lava" and "Spirits Drifting". In all of them an impressive symbiosis between title-sound-instrumentation–interpretation is achieved. The sensation of compact unity, of perfect engagement of all the elements that integrate each composition is really astonishing. Eno is able to transmit sensations with his music by way of paintings, pictures, drawings. Steve Huey in the valuation he carries out of "Another green world" for the web (www.allmusic.com) defines them as "paintings made in sound". In most of these pieces, Eno is, not only the arranger of its composition and author of its arrangements, but also the interpreter of all the instruments, without exception. Except for "Over Fire Island", in which Phil Collins participates to the drums and Percy Jones to the bass and "Zawinul Lava", where, to the former two players, we can add Paul Rudolph (Guitar) and Rod Melvin (Piano Rhodes), Eno plays all the instruments (organs, synthesizers, pianos, guitars, first floor, percussion, tapes...), a fact that credits him as an authentic multi-instrumentalist.

The remaining five pieces are structured in a different way. They are sung and in them a certain melodic pop spirit prevails, with the exception of "Sky Saw", an exceptional example of electronic avant rock, with Eno taking out the maximum profit of the guitar sound (Snake Guitar and Digital Guitar), wrapped up by an excellent jazzy rhythm section with Phil Collins to drums and two bassists, Percy Jones (Fretless Bass) and Paul Rudolph (Anchor Bass) and with the viola parts of John Cale introducing a delicious acoustic contrast to the enormous unfolding of electronic.

The pop softness of the other songs is, however, illuminated and wrapped up by the ambitious instrumental experimentation of Eno and his «collaborators», and we should highlight the excellent work from Robert Fripp to the guitar in "I´ll come Running", "St. Elmo´s Fire" and "Golden Hours" and of Eno, also to the guitar, in "Everything Merges With The Night", as well as the arrangement of Eno in the last two, structured as small camera pieces, integrating classic and electronic instruments (essentially in "Golden Hours") and interpreted by real ensembles, with two musicians in "St. Elmo´s Fire": Brian Eno (Organ, Piano, Yamaha Bass Pedals, Synthetic Percussion", Desert Guitars) and Robert Fripp (Wimshurst Guitar) and with three interpreters in "Golden Hours": Brian Eno (Choppy Organs, Spasmodic Percussion, Club Guitars, Uncertain Piano), Robert Fripp (Wimshurst Guitar) and John Cale (Viola). On the other hand, "Everything Merges With The Night" enjoys the virtues of the instrumental pieces, recreating the multitude of things that arise at night as made reference by the name of the song, but with the added value of the peculiar voice of Eno, leisurely, soft, enigmatic, very human (not celestial, prodigious, or divine) describing –rather drawing- the sensations evoked in the title.

The two stylistic sides that Eno offers in this album conform a strong and uniform work, at the same time varied and rich in shades and expression forms. It is a key work of the style in progressive rock with experimental restlessness. The music that it includes, in words of Charley Waters –in his comment that on this album makes for the web version of the magazine Rolling Stone (www.rollingstone.com) - "goes beyond any skillful trick, beyond simple experimentation". In it is manifested the warm feeling and the cold and calculated reasoning from Eno, the longing of progress, the willingness to test new things and the desire of discovery, the greed of creation... of a genius.

A quarter of a century with "Another green world". You should not lengthen that period without enjoying its listen. In some place I read that, only for the song that gives title to the album -that lasts 1:20 -, it is worthwhile to buy this album. Completely true; it is a marvel.

Ideal for those intoxicated with so much symphonic excess.

Juan Sánchez - June 2000
rating - EG Records

 

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