Before and After Science is really a study of "studio composition" whereby recordings are created by deconstruction and elimination: tracks are recorded and assembled in layers, then selectively subtracted one after another, resulting in a composition and sound quite unlike that at the beginning of the process. Despite the album's pop format, the sound is unique and strays far from the mainstream. Eno also experiments with his lyrics, choosing a sound-over-sense approach.
Continuing the twisted pop explorations of Here Come the Warm Jets, Eno's sophomore album, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), is more subdued and cerebral, and a bit darker when he does cut loose, but it's no less thrilling once the music reveals itself. It's a loose concept album – often inscrutable, but still playful – about espionage, the Chinese Communist revolution, and dream associations, with the more stream-of-consciousness lyrics beginning to resemble the sorts of random connections made in dream states.
Enjoy this nostalgic look back at the Teddy Boy subculture in post-war Britain with Madness frontman Suggs. Hear how young adults in the 1950s rebelled against the establishment.
Drums Between the Bells is a collaboration by producer Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland. It was recorded just after Eno finished work on 2010's Small Craft on a Milk Sea, his debut for Warp, and it followed on the release schedule less than a year later. In that sense, the timing was good for such a risky project. Music and poetry are often difficult companions, and combining them is best left to experts; fortunately, Eno is just such an expert. Although Holland is an obscure poet, he first came to Eno’s notice back in the late ‘90s (through a university project), and his poetry is very good. Although his words and thoughts are impressionistic, his themes are easier to peg: urban living, science, and the intersection of philosophy and biology. The music is almost entirely Eno’s own, with only a few tracks featuring guest credits – much less so than his previous album. While scattered moments here prove that percussion is still not his strong suit, the production is inviting, innovative, and a larger contributor to the general excellence of the record than the poetry.
At the same time Brian Eno was working on Here Come the Warm Jets, he was flexing his experimental muscle with this album of tape delay manipulation recorded with Robert Fripp. In a system later to be dubbed Frippertronics, Eno and Fripp set up two reel-to-reel tape decks that would allow audio elements to be added to a continuing tape loop, building up a dense layer of sound that slowly decayed as it turned around and around the deck's playback head. Fripp later soloed on top of this. No Pussyfooting represents the duo's initial experiments with this system, a side each.
This sublime, tranquil recording features 11 haunting ambient tone poems for treated piano. They are crafted from simple chords, arpeggios, or melodies that are frequently trailed by delicate electronic whispers to produce dreamy results. Even though Budd and Eno chose to compose and record in a minimalist style, their gorgeous, moody music evokes so much more, for the reverberating spaces between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves. In an interesting experiment, both "Against the Sky" and "An Echo of Night" explore the same melancholic musical theme in different settings–the former is a sparse piano piece with gentle electronic treatments, the latter is a murky synth work set against a nocturnal outdoor backdrop. (Budd later explored the theme again as the ethereal elegy "Olancha Farewell" on his 1986 solo album, Lovely Thunder.) Beautifully understated, the slow-motion ballet of The Pearl is a piece of striking ambient impressionism that was highly original in its day, well before the myriads of New Age imitators its composers spawned, and it remains fresh and vital two decades later. –Bryan Reesman