Brian Eno – Small craft on a Milk Sea (Album Review)

Brian Eno – Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Warp).

The father of breezy ambience is back with new album Small Craft on a Milk Sea, his first on highly influential British imprint Warp. Fitting for the label, as the home of some of the most forward-thinking electronic music of the last twenty years owes a huge debt to Eno’s legacy.

The producer kicks off his Warp career with the floating piano of album opener Emerald and Lime, immediately switching off the brain and drifting harmlessly along in the manner of previous work such as the eponymous Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks from 1983. This spacious ambience continues through Complex Heaven and the album’s title track, before proceedings take a more sinister tone. The frantic electronics of Flint March and Horse pave the way for 2 Forms of Anger, a much more insightful look in to Eno’s psyche. Pounding electronic rhythms and menacing effects explode midway into a vitriolic pseudo-punk finale. Roxy Music this is not.

However, it’s here that the album peaks. Bone Jump sounds like a bizarre GCSE computer game music project, all cheap MIDI and over complex, nonsensical melodies. By Palaesonic, the rattle of digital drums begins to grate. Slow Ice, Old Moon introduces a run of pieces returning to the background-for-meditation mould of earlier. Tracks such as Late Antropocene allow the ambient master to prove he is no dinosaur amongst his Warp label-mates, before the album creeps away as quietly as it arrived on closer Invisible.

This is a collection to please Eno fans; not straying too far from his groundbreaking ‘80s sound and concept, but not turning many heads either.


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