Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brian Eno 2: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Now firmly a solo artist, Eno strove forward with Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), based around (so he said) a series of postcards about the Chinese Revolution and featuring, unlike the last album, the same band throughout all the tracks. This gives the album a certain continuity not immediately recognizable to those of us who hadn’t seen the postcards.
“Burning Airlines Give You So Much More” and “Back In Judy’s Jungle” seem to want to set up some kind of story, but it isn’t getting anywhere. “The Fat Lady Of Limbourg” derails any possibility of a plot, with a lyric that’s out front and teases up to the denouement. It’s at this point that “Mother Whale Eyeless” rises above the obscurity for a song that serves to unite us all. “The Great Pretender” ends the side with a fading “cricket menace” designed to drive the listener mad.
It’s the second side where the album truly takes off. “Third Uncle” would be appropriated by Bauhaus for their entire career, but his version includes mumbled lyrics, an incessant beat and a guitar solo that’s absolute genius. “Put A Straw Under Baby” takes things down a notch, a lovely nursery rhyme with backing from the notoriously untalented Portsmouth Sinfonia. “The True Wheel” features a gloriously repetitive solo from Phil Manzanera over three chords in off meter and the first mention of an entity called the 801. “China My China” reminds us of the alleged concept, and a wonderful typewriter interlude after the line “to pay percussion over solos.” A lengthy silence precedes the title track, which serves as a deceptively calm soundtrack to mountain climbing.
Not as strong as his first, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) still offers sounds that are far ahead of where others were at the time. Its tentative beginning is more than redeemed by the bulk of the remainder, and it serves as a worthy chapter in his story. He was gaining a reputation as something of an intelligent oddball, but he was about to evolve again, with some of his best work still to come.

Eno Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974)—

1 comment:

  1. Please enjoy our recent tribute to Mr. Eno's album:

    http://musariada.mus.uea.ac.uk/~mattr/royallyvague/pb/tigermountain.html

    ReplyDelete