x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Review: Brian Eno, Drum Between the Bells (Warp)

Brian Eno takes time off from big-name producing to make a long-awaited - and excellent - album.

Last year, Brian Eno took advantage of a gap between superstar production work for the likes of Coldplay and U2 to release his first album of new material in half a decade, his debut on the feted British electronic label Warp. In quick succession, here is a further collaborative collection of jazzy electronic soundscapes, this time interwoven with the words of the poet Rick Holland. Eno intones Holland's lyrics on five of the 16 tracks, including the opening number Bless This Space, a kind of 21st century techno-blues mesh of shimmering computer beats and gently weeping guitars. Holland himself makes a brief vocal cameo later, but female voices dominate, most strikingly Glaznya Goworek's heavily processed robo-chants on the propulsive mechanical funk of Glitch and Laura Spagnuolo's cool Laurie Anderson-style incantation on the melancholy sci-fi lullaby Pour It Out. For fans of Eno's groundbreaking 1970s output, these translucent sound paintings will sound like old hat. The ambient art-rock pioneer certainly seems more likely to revisit old career phases than invent new musical languages nowadays. But Drums Between the Bells contains many moments of meditative magic and mesmerising beauty. Besides, with so many mainstream artists currently making Eno-esque music, he is entitled to sound like himself occasionally.