Sunday, January 17, 2010


Going back through old blog posts I wrote one in 2006 that asked when I'd lost interest in Brian Eno. I take it all back of course, perhaps because he's not been quite so ubiquitous of late, or because the current state of music seems quite flat, and Eno makes things a little more interesting. Still, I didn't rush to read Paul Morley's piece in today's Observer, until someone else mentioned it on Twitter. Maybe I'm tired of Paul Morley! (Actually I've always been tired of Paul Morley.) There's an Eno night on BBC4 next Friday as well, which has to be must-view. Then again, the Eno that I got a little fed up with hearing about was the one that Morley describes in his introduction, "an intellectually mobile loner, scene-setter, systems lover, obstinate rebel, techno-prophet, sensual philosopher, courteous progressive, close listener, gentle heretic, sound planner, adviser explorer, pedant and slick conceptual salesman."

The Eno I have always loved is the Eno who makes music, whatever the context and collaboration. Having taken more than a passing interest in late 20th century classical music over the last year or two, Eno has been there beside me as a way of connecting my interest between pop and other musical forms. In the Observer interview he's interesting as ever, but mostly because he's answering the questions that I'm interested in - talking about music and aesthetics - rather than the latest project du jour. He didn't like Zappa's music, but was glad Zappa had made it, otherwise he might have gone down that route. He makes the point that classical composers such as Steve Reich would record their work very badly, as they were interested in process not result; and, have learnt nothing or shown no interest in anything that the history of late 20th century pop music could teach them. (Reich, "supporting" Kraftwerk last year, admitted they were a band he'd never listened to.) He talks about a band he'd heard recently who were out of tune on a professional record (wish he'd name names!) and sees it as an overdue response to ProTools style perfection. He talks about how because synthesizers are so quickly replaced, updated, there's less of the player becoming an expert at a particular instrument - less of that bond between player and instrument. (An interesting one for me, sat with my 26 year old Roland Juno Six behind me!) He talks about ABBA, gospel choirs, and working with U2 and Coldplay. Always fascinating. The interview ends with the thought that "the record age was just a blip", like whale blubber to generate power before gas game along.

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