Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No. 433: Another Green World

Band: Brian Eno
Album: Another Green World
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Before he was an award-winning producer and after his time in Roxy Music, Brian Eno's solo work stands alone as beautiful and evocative background music. Coupled with a few pop-styled experimental pieces, "Another Green World" plays like a masterpiece.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: This is one of the records that was more influential than popular, so I'd put it a little higher than, say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' two albums.
Best song: I know "St. Elmo's Fire" is considered his great work, but I adore "I'll Come Running."
Worst song: The album works well on the whole, so I would suggest listening to it as such.
Is it awesome?: Hell and yes.

Is Brian Eno's music indescribable? Is it simply a problem on my part?

Eno's rightly celebrated as someone who was able to synthesize beautiful electronic music at the start of the digital age of music. His work asa producer with the Talking Heads is some of the band's best work and I still contend that Roxy Music wasn't nearly the same without him.

The tracks on "Another Green World" fall between atmospheric soundtrack-score type songs ("In Dark Trees") to more conventional pop song-like tracks ("I'll Come Running"). Indeed, the former is more prevalent on the album and the album's strength is the soundtrack quality of it. The record is more evocative than anything, specifically in Robert Fripp's beautiful guitar pieces.


I recently saw the Moog, the documentary on the invention of the first popular electronic instruments and their inventor, Dr. Robert Moog. In the film, Moog mentions that his instruments were met with huge resistance simply because people believed that electronic instruments took the humanity out of music. Moog argues -- rightfully, I believe -- that the humanity remains in how the instruments are played. Analog synths, specifically, have as much soul in them as an acoustic guitar.

Some bands, of course, embrace the coldness of synthesized sound. Kraftwerk, certainly, made what they considered "computer music." Trans Am, a wonderful post-rock band, has added vocoder to the mix to sound even more computer-like.

Brian Eno's music, however, combines the best of lush acoustic instruments and analog electronics to create a wonderfully emotive group of songs that would preview music to come. The title track's strong melody and short form is gorgeous and forceful. The electronics "Sky Saw" falls around a rhythmic bassline while the melody hits like, well, a saw. The praise heaped on "St. Elmo's Fire" is not undeserved, as the song is warm and pretty, while the album's other great pop song, "I'll Come Running" is sweet and catchy.


"Another Green World" is one of the albums I'm ashamed to admit I did not know before I started this project. Of course, now I'm incredibly thankful the record is part of my collection.

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