RIYL: David Bowie, Silver Apples, Talking Heads, Kraftwerk
Reccomended Tracks: 1, 8, 9, 10, 4, 6
Once in a while you have to stop trying to keep up with the new to lose yourself in the past. There is so much new music being bombarded at us from every angle…some of it is good, some of it is absolutely god awful, and mostly none if it is innovative. If just for a second, let’s talk about groundbreaking albums, albums that influence the good music of today and that will never let us down.
Tonight, another sleepless night, Brian Eno’s perfect Before and After Science is my handsome companion. There is no way to describe the magnificent and versatile nature of Eno, especially noted in this one album. He goes from glam to ambient, from ecstatic to contemplative, from prose to poetry.
I love this album’s reference to Kurt Schwitters (track 3, Kurt’s Rejoinder), because it explains Eno’s work so well. Scwitters’ ideas of the all-encompassing work of art, the enveloping of the human being in stimulus, his Merz collages that were really just rooms and rooms of environments to thrill the senses, they’re all perfectly internalized and applied. You leave your body through your ears, you float in his melodies to another mood, a timeless plateau, your legs tingle and your eyes close. It takes your body.
Every song in this album has its place, every song is worth everything. No One Receiving‘s production, with the feeling of the backward-vocals, adds a great deal to the Talking Heads-like instrumentation. It gives me a slight feel of Family Fodder-esque New Wave; the energy, the beat. Kurt’s Rejoinder has a great noisy tribal-beat-ish avant-garde electronica sound that is immediately accessible, immediately engaging. And the lyrical language grabs you and takes you for a ride. Backwater is just happiness personified, with great phonetic lyrics and one of my favorite lines from any song (“Do what you do in a tiny canoe…”). My favorite trio of songs are the last three tracks: By This River, Through Hollow Lands and Spider and I. Some of the most perfect songs ever written, these beautiful pieces are immensely introspective and inspiring. Anyone I ever play By This River to becomes immediately sober, immediately opened to thought. Through Hollow Lands leaves you staring off, completely stolen by your mind. Spider and I is so hopeful that it fills you with the desire to achieve, to create.
You might think I’m overreaching, but man…I’ve listened to this album billions of times and I’m never going to get tired of it. It never gets any less perfect, never gets old, never gets stale. The songs are timeless, they are pure audible beauty. In some instances, if you listen with really good headphones and the room is completely quiet, you can hear Eno’s breathing on some tracks (most notably Through Hollow Lands). There’s nothing quite as beautiful as well-placed breathing in such a careful state of production.
Take a break from hunting the new, and please do give this album a listen. You won’t regret it.