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Brian Eno: Another Day On Earth


Brian Eno

Album: Another Day On Earth
Label: Rykodisc/Hannibal

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A musical thinker whose vast influence is still being unpacked and sifted through, Brian Eno has done as much to marry the ideas of music and art as anybody. His string of '70s albumsâ€"landmark finds for minds looking to be engaged and massaged on equal termsâ€"still gleam like hidden jewels in the rock and electronic firmament, beautiful and obscure in ways that inform the art-rock canon while lurking, ever mysteriously, in the margins.

An extensive reissue campaign has placed Eno's rock and ambient albums back in the foreground, but it also shines a curious light on Another Day On Earth, touted as Eno's first "solo song-based work" in decades. From the start, the album shuffles in line behind soft, murky classics like Another Green World and Before And After Science, splitting the difference between ambient soundscapes that make a point of meandering and pop songs that flirt with structure. "This" opens with a dry ellipsis of drum machine and Eno's eerie, measured voice ticking off a list of thingsâ€""this race, this world, this feeling, this girl"â€"that sound less important than the sibilant "this" that precedes them. It's classic Eno, with guitar lines evocative of his U2 production, and an overextended syllable-stretch that sneaks a song's worth of melody into one part of one word.

Eno's sense of melody usually goes neglected behind talk of his moods and mixing technique, but it's all over Another Day: Songs like "And Then So Clear" (with sour vocoder vocals) and "How Many Worlds" (bouncing over what sounds like a ukulele) drift through intricate melodic figures that take several lines to develop and resolve. It doesn't help the few tracks built on limp click-beats and lazy synth settings, but it helps showcase how Eno's parts all serve a whole that seems to exist before he starts whittling his songcraft. Another Day is nowhere near as invested with ideas as Eno's name-making work, but its easy pleasures still rub and float away.