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Music Review: Brian Eno and Rick Holland: Drums Between The Bells

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Somewhere there must be a warehouse of Brian Eno skins. Just about everything Brian Eno’s ever recorded, insofar as what I’ve heard, is as different as day and night. He must change his skin with every one. He’s never the same person as last time you saw or heard him, and he won’t be the next time either. This leopard really can change his spots.

Eno is probably best known as the Founding Father of ambient music. The first time I saw him performing publicly he was on the Beeb, with glam-rock group Roxy Music. Later he recorded with Robert Fripp, founder of King Crimson and The League of Crafty Guitarists. He’s also worked with Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, Cluster, John Cale, Nico, Harold Budd and U2. Lesser known is his prolific studio work, producing groups such as Depeche Mode.

The common theme that seems to emerge is that Eno chooses to work with generally innovative, creatively brilliant musicians. While there are similarities in some of his works, it’s impossible to categorize him. Then again, why would one want to? Just sit back and enjoy.

Eno has collaborated with Rick Holland a few times in the past, but I believe this is his first recording with him. Eno handles the vast majority of the production on this CD, not to mention playing most of the instrumentation, with Holland responsible for the words. In turn, the words are spoken by Eno and Holland, and an additional seven others.

In reading other reviews, one thing seems to comes across in a general sense. I think some reviewers perhaps aren’t perceptive enough to get the meaning of Eno’s music (myself included!). An example would be somebody telling a joke in a foreign language, a language which I fail to understand. It may be hilarious, but to me it’s gibberish. That’s the way I see Eno’s music. He’s doing or saying something that many listeners perhaps fail to grasp. In the two days I’ve had this disc, I estimate I’ve listened to it at least 40 times, no exaggeration.  With each play, I hear something different, something new, something I hadn’t previously noted.

Eno’s forgotten more about music than we scruffy reviewers will ever know, let alone hope to know. Take for instance the 55-second track of … nothing. Many people will, I’m sure, think it might be a glitch on the recording. But if you look at the track listing, it’s listed as “Silence.” Very few musicians use silence as punctuation, but it’s an effective tool when used properly.

Drums Between The Bells is, hands down, a masterpiece. Every time I’ve listened, I’ve added or changed something I’ve written in this review. I plan to listen to the CD again, but not before this review is published.

 

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About Lou Novacheck