Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Brian Eno 15: Box Sets
The first two discs in the vocal box (which came out first) contain the majority of his first four “rock” albums, originally recorded and released between 1973 and 1977, with a couple of rarities thrown in (as well as a few instrumentals not included on the other box). The third disc brings together a sampling of the more infrequent “songs” Eno issued over the period from 1977 to 1993. Several of these tracks are from his unreleased My Squelchy Life, and are much less distracting than the more experimental Nerve Net, which was released instead. By that time, so-called electronic and industrial music had caught up with and surpassed the groundwork Eno laid out, and Nerve Net was left to compete with the monster it had helped to create. The Squelchy tracks show that he was still quite capable of making music like he used to, even if he chose not to share it with the world at large.
The first disc covers a variety of his “music for films”, many of which had never appeared on CD. The second disc predominantly consists of instrumental collaborations with the likes of David Bowie, Cluster and Robert Fripp. The third disc is almost totally ambient, seven tracks mostly edited from lengthy pieces.
For the neophyte, the Eno boxes were eye-opening. For the consummate Enophile, the exponentially improved sound along with various out-of-print selections made it all a worthy investment. (Now that both are out of print, you’re stuck with paying exorbitant used prices, or sticking with the albums that are still available.) The packaging is unique, though the essays that accompany each box are alternatively self-absorbed and non-illuminating. Only Eno himself could possibly verbalize the creative process that went into the development of this music, much of which happened by chance. Few other places in the catalog of popular music will one find such a high success rate.
Brian Eno Box II: Vocal (1993)—4
Brian Eno Box I: Instrumental (1994)—4