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Small Craft on a Milk Sea

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Audio CD, November 2, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

''The work in this collection is a result of an occasional collaboration between myself, Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins. The two of them are gifted young player/composers whose work, like mine, is intimately connected to the possibilities and freedoms of electronic music. Over the last few years we've worked together several times, enjoying exploring the huge new sonic territories now available to musicians. Mostly the pieces on this album resulted not from 'composition' in the classical sense, but from improvisation. The improvisations are not attempts to end up with a song, but rather with a landscape, a feeling of a place and perhaps the suggestion of an event. In a sense they deliberately lack 'personality': there is no singer, no narrator, no guide as to what you ought to be feeling. If these pieces had been used in films, the film would complete the picture. As they stand, they are the mirror-image of silent movies - sound-only movies.'' --Brian Eno
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 2, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warp Records
  • ASIN: B0040V7J36
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,467 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By song_x on November 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
During the first ten years of the new century, Brian Eno has released some albums that come close to his classics of the seventies and eighties, for example DRAWN FROM LIFE, with Peter Schwalm, or the brilliant song cycle ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH. Now, the creator of ambient music has released his first solo album on Warp Records, specialists for experimental, electronic pop. And he is working with some soulmates, Leo Abrahams (guitar, laptop, weird sounds) and Jon Hopkins (piano, electronics, strange sounds).

Good companionship for a purely instrumental record that reaches far out - and starts almost too beautiful, with the ambient sugar of EMERALD AND LIME. But even this soft starter has some grainy elements of total emptiness in it - the picture of a silent sea springs to mind (a picture Eno has often recurred to in his songs). The following three soundscapes belong to the 1000 places you will have to go to before you die. COMPLEX HEAVEN, SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA and the driving, irresistible rhythms of FLINT MARCH contain everything you expect from great Eno pieces, a sense of wonder, and an ambivalent field of emotion. On FLINT MARCH, the elastic drums add to an exercise of nearly uninhibited joie de vivre (but even here, as repeated listening reveals, some dark forces are working in the background).

This 15-track journey then continues with some wild pieces, a quiet foreboding of danger, and rough passages with frenetic guitar playing: sometimes Eno loves to push sounds to the verge of falling apart. The listener is getting lost in a very interesting way - between child-like moods, disturbing fields of sound, apparitions of naked beauty.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William Merrill VINE VOICE on November 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The review of this new Eno album in Rolling Stone has the subheading "The godfather of ambient rocks out -- finally!" When I started listening to Small Craft for the first time, I thought "where's the rocking out?" In fact, there are more ambient style or otherwise atmospheric pieces on this all-instrumental album than rockers, but there are definitely also times where the godfather "lets loose" too. The first such "rocking" place comes four tracks in, with "Flint March" and its tribal beats. Then "Bone Jump" has a nice funky bass tone, but I wouldn't exactly call it a "rocker." "Dust Shuffle" gets a good groove going, and "Paleosonic" even has something like an electric guitar solo. Anyway, I very much enjoyed all of those cuts, but the spacey stuff is what I really go to Eno for, and Small Craft contains some of his very best work.

Take the two bookend pieces, "Emerald and Lime" and "Emerald and Stone." They're beautiful piano/synth reveries - heavenly. For a more classic "ambient" sound, listen to the nearly eight-minute-long "Late Anthropocene" which closes the album. There, sustained tones overlap and weave in and out of each other in a sublime swirl of electronics, punctuated by mysterious artificial percussion noises that add background color to the piece. Marvelous! There are many fellow practitioners of this electro-instrumental genre (ex., Trent Reznor), but nobody does it as superbly as Brian Eno. Long may he reign!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles Miller on November 16, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most reading this must be familiar with most of Eno's career, from Roxy Music, to cutting-edge solo career, to ambient, to collaborations, to production work and beyond. In recent years, releases have been few and oft times, just what you would expect. That's not a bad thing because there are no real surprises on this album as well, however, this release is one of the best in a long time.

After multiple plays, it goes beyond the initial impression that it is a later day Another Green World fused with The Pearl. On this release Eno truly solidifies what he is so skilled at: a cohesive finished product that includes elements from his entire career and done in manner that makes it seem easy. It is as if Eno has perfected Eno. For any one who enjoys what he does, no album better does it better.

The album begins ambiently enough, but after a few tracks, peaks with some clever rhythms before returning to ambience for the final tracks. The more you play it, the more you come to realize this is best release in a long time, and without over-production, is smooth sailing from start to finish.

Be aware there are actually six versions of this release:
[1] A single CD general release;
[2] A single CD from Japan with an exclusive bonus track: Invisible;
[3] A deluxe edition with 2 LPs and 2 CDs (the 2nd CD contains four exclusive tracks);
[4] A deluxe (and very expensive) limited edition of 250 containing a signed, numbered and unique Eno lithograph as well as 2 LPs and 2 CDs;
[5] A promotion only 2 CD set featuring the album plus a bonus CD containing the Japanese-only track and two of the four exclusive tracks from the deluxe edition.
[6] An iTunes only bonus track: Loose Rein (thanks to B.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By whitechocolatebrotha on November 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Poetic, peaceful, intense and completely imbalanced. One moment, you're floating along gently and in the next, there's a storm in that milk sea and you're gettin' whipped on HIGH like a frappe in the blender. Brian Eno is a pioneering force within the genre of Electronic music and he has a cult following when it pertains to his expertly looped Ambient works.

This time out though, there are some louder elements presenting. Tracks #5, "Horse" & #6, "2 Forms of Anger" are respectively tribal-ish and Drum and Bass-ish, putting forth more aggressive vibes, especially with the latter building up into a crescendo of Eno as I've never heard him before. I'll stand behind my opening descriptors and will say that this one might cause you to skip over a track or two, especially the aforementioned titles with their more "headbanging" sonics.

If you're expecting to be lulled to sleep a la "Music For Airports" or "Plateaux of Mirror," there are places here which certainly DO support this, but as I had previously mentioned, there's something new happening in the mix too; or OLD. Somehow, the more "techno" moments of "Nerve Net" come to mind, but at increasingly noisier levels and may take a few listens to fully digest. Bring dramamine when you board this small craft; The milk sea features some intensely turbulent tides. I was disappointed for the most part due to the aforementioned louder elements which present here and make it not the kind of recording you can leave on while you're napping or de-stressing. You'll be scared awake by these two angrier tracks that show up back to back midway through.
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