Monday, October 10, 2011

Eno Meany

Life is full of things that slow you down and generally impede your progress. Mostly people, but also things like 'having a job with slightly awkward hours', 'wanting to make the most of your time with your special lady friend', the nebulous 'other commitments' and 'having a brain that hates and despises you and tries its level best to make things difficult whenever possible'. Ladies and germs, I'll level with you - add to those obstacles a general feeling of bone-tired weariness and a pinch of slack, and you'll have my situation in a nutshell.

I mean, I have been productive, just not as productive as I'd like to be. I've been writing music reviews for the fine folks at The Sleeping Shaman and, more recently, Bearded Magazine and tinkering with some new music equipment I recently acquired, but, well, it's not enough DAMMIT!!

I want more life, fucker.

...and so, without further ado, excuses and shameless self-promotion, we plunge into the plangent, comfortably warm waters of the third of the first four Brian Eno solo 'vocal' albums.

'Another Green World' was released in 1975, one year after the slightly lacklustre (IMHO) 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy', and the same year as his first 'ambient' album, 'Discreet Music', emerged. Tonally and in terms of mood, 'Another Green World' is closer to the latter i.e contemplative and somewhat tranquil. This tonal shift came about in the wake of a traumatic accident wherein Eno received a serious head injury that laid him low for a while.
I'm sure you've heard the tale of how Eno invented ambient music, as we know it, so I won't bore you with it, suffice to say that some of his resulting methodology and approach also rubbed off on 'Another Green World'.

...note the early use of a drum machine, set on 'bossa-nova' there.

On all of the Eno albums featured here, there are a number of other musicians featured, many of whom reocurr over the course of time - most notably Robert Fripp and bassist Paul Rudolph - and 'Another Green World' is no exception to this, boasting the obligatory Fripp, some viola from John Cale (who may well be featured in another of these mult-part posts in future), bass from Winkies man Brian Turrington (of whom, more in the next, final, post), mo' bass from Brand X bassman Percy Jones and drums from his Brand X bandmate.....Phil Collins.

Yeah. I know. Him.

Now, loathe as I am to attempt a defence of this purveyor of ultimate filth, this was 1975 and Phil was still content to keep his damn mouth shut and just play his drums, which he does with verve, aplomb, moxie and ....uh...possibly chutzpah herein.

'Sky Saw' there, the slightly alarming opening track of the album, contained a backing track that Eno would cannibalise several times througout his career, thus really getting his moneys worth from Phil Collins and, as I mentioned back in the first part of these posts, finding a genuine use for him to boot.

Now, my personal musical highlight on this album would have to be the track 'St Elmo's Fire', which has fuck-all to do with the movie and everything to do with Robert Fripp's lyrical, liquid guitar solo, improvised on the spot when Eno told him he wanted a solo that sounded and felt like electricity arcing between two points on a generator. I think he nailed it...

...wouldn't you agree?

Ssssssooooooo, yes. There you have it. 'Another Green World'.

Go get it.

* Nerd Footnote - Issue 23 of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, April 1984, featured a story entitled 'Another Green World', a definite reference to this album, given Mr Moore's musical inclinations and later use of song titles, lyrics and album titles as titles for Swamp Thing stories.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, brother. Do whatever you gotta do to wrest some happiness from this life. And thank you for your posts. They fucking rock.

Roger_Camden said...

Fripp's St. Elmo's Fire solo made me cry the first time I heard it

a friend of mine has a theory about this record:
since this was written and recorded shortly after Eno was hit by a car
my friend believes that the general tone of the record came from spending lots of time in a hospital
(she's a nurse)
to her, the pulsing electronics that line the backing tracks sound exactly like a room full of life-saving medical equipment

Petty Vendetta said...

yeah- Eno actually talks about how aware he became of those incidental sounds while in hospital, and that was the inspiration for his first ambient works.

Sabin said...

The 33 1/3 book on Another Green World is pretty inspiring... alot about the oblique strategy cards he used in making it, sometimes scrapping entire songs. It's pretty inspirational if you are of the art persuasion...

MK said...

Im gonna go out on a limb and say that Eno wasnt the inventor of ambient music, that title belongs to the Krautrockers, who Eno was highly influenced by. But cool post as always. Love this blog!

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Sabin, I meant to mention the AGW book, but I've yet to read it so I didn't wanna give it a mention just in case it was a bit....pseudy.

Peter said...

If you want to talk origins of "ambient" music, I think you have to talk about Satie (1866-1925) and his "musique d’ameublement" or "furniture music".

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

True Peter, Eno himself has referenced Satie and 'furniture music', but I think more of Eno as the creator of Ambient music as we know it, not so much the progenitor.