Brian Eno: Drums Between the Bells
It shouldn't surprise anyone that as Brian Eno gets older his musical output continues to be both prolific and groundbreaking. His new album 'Drums Between the Bells' arrives any day now. It's a collaboration with the poet Rick Holland and is a marvelous piece of work. Eno takes his audience seriously and is not one to entertain it frivolously - the album gestated for eight years. Eno fits rather neatly into my idea of "musicians being brilliant." I thought I would share some of his ideas and thinking around the album that I have pulled from some recent interviews:
“Something I’ve realized lately, to my shock, is that I am an optimist, in that I think humans are almost infinitely capable of self-change and self-modification, and that we really can build the future that we want if we’re smart about it,” he said. Given Mr. Eno’s characteristically eclectic form of brain gymnastics, the conversation was only partly about his new album, “Drums Between the Bells” (Warp), to be released on Tuesday.
Ask Mr. Eno a question — about lyrics, say, or his songwriting process — and an hour later you walk away with an unsummarizable catalog of big ideas on music, history and technology, as well as a reading list to keep you occupied for a month. In a recent telephone interview from his studio in London, Mr. Eno enthusiastically discussed evolution, the meta-fictions of Jorge Luis Borges, the effect of cloud music services on creativity and why “music” itself is an outdated term. (His suggested replacement, for which he has even designed an app, is “sonema,” which, he says, connotes a sense of “sonic immersion and environment” more appropriate to the 21st century.)" [Edit] “The whole history of pop music had rested on the first person singular, with occasional intrusions of the second person singular,” he said. (To illustrate his point, he briefly affected a teeny-bopper croon: “I am this, I think this, and you do this, and you are this.”) “I was so bored with the idea of the whole song being based around some individual’s narrative. So I started working on ways to try to get rid of the idea that the voice in the song was the voice of the song, that that was the center of the meaning of the song.” Ben Sisario, NY Times Link
"The process behind Brian Eno's new album, "Drums Between the Bells," a collaboration with the English poet Rick Holland, is based on a simple premise but one that could change the way you hear your next conversation.
"We are all singing. We call it speech, but we're singing to each other," Eno said (sang?) from London during a recent phone exchange. Eight years ago the British-born composer, producer, visual artist and sonic conceptualist began putting his belief to a test: "I thought, as soon as you put spoken word onto music, you start to hear it like singing anyway. You start to develop musical value and musical weight, and you start to notice how this word falls on that beat, and so on."
Hence "Drums," on which Eno has created a 16-track work of exquisite musical structures that support, reinforce, play tricks with, encapsulate and interpret Holland's poetry. It's read by a collection of human voices gathered from Eno's everyday life, including the receptionist at his local health club, his Polish bookkeeper and a South African woman he met on the street — in addition to Eno and Holland. The work, part of a career that includes at least 45 solo and collaborative albums, is a fascinating, magnetic experiment in sound." [Edit] "More than mere experiment, Eno pushes his idea further in the liner notes for the release: "I hope this record will signal the beginning of a new way for poets to think about their work, and for audiences to think about poetry." Randall Roberts, LA Times Pop Critic Link
"Eno says this new record is about noticing "moments of energy between music and a voice and trying to make more of them". It's an idea he's become more and more involved with having largely lost interest in the idea that singer should be at the centre of music and that pop music itself is somehow autobiographical.
"It's insane that since the Beatles and Dylan it's assumed that all musicians should do everything themselves," he says, "It's that ridiculous, teenage idea that when Mick Jagger sings he's telling you something about his own life. It's so arrogant to think that people would want to know about it anyway! This is my problem with Tracey Emin; who fucking cares?
"I never wanted to write the sort of song that said, 'Look at how abnormal and crazy and out there I am, man!'" Eno laughs. "Someone like Bowie never wrote those sorts of songs. People like Frank Zappa and Bryan Ferry knew we could pick and choose from the history of music, stick things together looking for friction and energy. They were more like playwrights; they invented characters and wrote a life around them. Bowie played a double game as well as he appeared to live it, too. He played with the form and the expectations brilliantly." Rob Fitzpatrick, the Guardian Link