Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brian Eno "Small Craft On A Sea Of Milk" [Warp]

2010 really seems to be the year ambient goes overground again, with The Black Dog's "Music For Real Airport's" generating lots of well deserved hype and the unfortunate stellar disappointment from The Orb and David Gilmore's "Metallic Sphere's" and now we have Brian Eno's Latest opus which has been released on the legendary Warp records.

The album is available in various forms including a somewhat overpriced signed collectors double Vinyl/CD set, a double CD and the single CD which is being reviewed here.

"Small Craft On A Sea Of Milk" starts off with no real surprises for Eno fans, the first three tracks have that sort of haunted bluesy desolate soundtrack feel, from the achingly delicate piano composition of the opening "Emarald and Lime" to the dreamy guitars of "Complex Heaven" which are both both beautifully played by Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams.

Unfortunately from track four things go way out of focus, as it ventures into self indulgent industrial tribal glitch rock. On one track it sounds like Michael Flatley tap dances under the influence of ecstasy while Ritchie Hawtin tries to emulate 303 sounds on a broken DX7.

There are times where I can I hear a slight Aphex Twin "Drukqs" influence ? but without the effortless confidence and intricate details of Mr Richard D James.

Other moments of Eno's take on industrial techno or warpism's sound like an endurance test with the use of some unforgivably pointless sounds and over the top screeching guitars which are often so irritating you may prematurely reach for the eject button, but fortunately on Track ten "Slow Ice, Old Moon" the album returns to some spooky soundscapes which sound similar to some moments off Brian's ambient classic "Apollo" then we are treated to the gentle and rather emotive bleeps and shifting drones of "Lesser Heaven" and from here on in we are eased back in the comfort zone.

Towards the end we have "Written Forgotten" with its deep buzzing acidic synths, atmospheric pads and dreamy acoustic guitar combined with some oddball vocal samples and warm symphonic strings, which creates a shifting piece of ambient that wouldn't sound out of place in a David Lynch movie.
The album closes off with "Late Anthropocene" which sees Brian moving into the similar sonic terrain of Christian Fennesz with its beautifully layered female choir and wind chimes and glitchy abstraction..

Overall this album has a slight identity crisis, kind of half ambient and half industrial experimental, while the ambient half works really well I feel that the industrial side of it could had have been put to one side for another project perhaps, or even better kept for brian's own personal enjoyment.

Where its ambient 8/10

Where its other 3/10

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