Brian Eno - Before And After Science (Vinyl LP)

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The fifth studio album by the British musician, originally released in December 1977. Musicians from the U.K. and Germany collaborated on the album, including Fred Frith of Henry Cow, Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music, Paul Rudolph of Hawkwind, Andy Fraser of Free, Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention, Jaki Liebezeit of Can, and Dieter Moebius and Roedelius of Cluster. Over one hundred tracks were written with only ten making the album's final cut. The musical styles of the album range from energetic and jagged to languid and pastoral.


Of the "Berlin Adventure" albums this is easily the most forgotten. By Berlin Adventure I of course mean the albums that are associated strongly with the legendary trio's legendary trip to West Berlin around this time. Bowie, Iggy, and Eno. Eno is commonly brought up (accurately or not) as producing this or that among the works of the other two, but in classic producer fashion is easily forgotten by most music folks. When remembered it's more likely for his work on other's albums, and so this very very strong effort somehow has managed to fall through the cracks! Ridiculous and then some, as it's every bit as influential and forward looking as Low or The Idiot, maybe the most forward looking of all. It's association with the other Berlin albums is actually very evident from even a casual listen, as it has a two part structure similar to Low and Heroes. One side has bouncy pop numbers full of energy, and the second side is largely slow and instrumental (not to mention somber!). So what has Eno gotten up to on this? It's no small thing of his career mind you, as it sounds like so much of the work he would subsequently do with Talking Heads and Devo, AND it's really in a sense his last album that can easily be classified as rock. His only other album that in any way could fit the umbrella is also a collaboration with David Byrne. So in so many ways this is his solo finale, and he doesn't waste the chance on making small moments. The first side is strong, REALLY strong, it's just nothing but fantastic. To say the next six or so years after 77 would be filled with amazing New Wave style rock pop would be an understatement. But even with all those who would follow the four full songs on the first half are amazing things, and sound very much ahead of their time. Kurt's Rejoinder could have been off a great quirky New Wave album from 82' or something, and King's Lead Hat is...all talk of innovation aside...simply one of the most entertaining goddamn songs I've ever heard. All four are pop in the full meaning of that word, but also (ESPECIALLY by the standards of 77) very offbeat and interesting. This is the dawn of how art-pop would begin to sound shortly. And there's more than just that here, the opening song? It blatantly takes the main beat and melody of Bowie's Stay from Station to Station and builds a whole new song off it. About fourteen years later this practice would become infamous in Hip-Hop to the point that lots of people discredited the whole genre for it. Sampling my friends, and Eno shows us how it works well. Anyone doubting there's really any sampling basis here obviously needs to check out exactly that David Byrne collab I mentioned earlier. These songs can't be emphasized enough as being masterpieces, anyone who counts themselves a Talking Heads or XTC fan for instance...and has somehow not heard this album? I don't know what to tell you. Hell "King's Lead Hat" is apparently an anagram for Talking Heads! The second side shows Eno continuing more on the path of what he was up to on Another Green World, nice peaceful atmospheric musics and a somber though sometimes hopeful mood. It would seem to be his speciality and they are good, but for the most part I find side two too uneventful. They don't really manage to pull off the fantastic moody instrumental experience that side two of Low did. The highlights among them though do linger strongly on the mind, Spider And I is generally considered great, and while I only really enjoy it on a normal level it is a very nice (and somewhat ahead of it's time) synth symphony. My favorite from the second side is and remains Julie With, which is a great exercise in sustaining a slow and unhappening track by just how perfectly it hits the emotions. The overall experience manages to be the hidden gem of the year if anything, though it makes little sense for this to be so, even within Eno's own career it gets unjustly overshadowed by Another Green World. Instead it's easily one of the top efforts of the year, and the best solo album the man ever made by a fair shake. Neither Green World or Warm Jets can win here. The strongest thought it ends up leaving on me is that it really is partly a shame that Eno stopped making song oriented solo albums with this. The gifts he's given as producer to groups like U2 and the Talking Heads are worth it maybe (especially Remain In Light, so strongly imprinted by him as it is) but I would love to see an alternate world where Eno kept making albums in this vein.

By: Zephos

A1 No one Receiving
A2 Backwater
A3 Kurt's Rejoinder
A4 Energy Fools The Magician
A5 King's Lead Hat
B1 Here He Comes
B2 Julie With...
B3 By This River
B4 Through Hollow Lands (For Harold Budd)
B5 Spider And I