Drawn from Life
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ENO BRIAN & SCHWALM PETER DRAWN FROM LIFE
Picking up where such seminal Eno recordings as Music for Airports and Another Green World left off, the inveterate innovator-producer's first recording in four years is a surreal tableau of loping beats and eerie sounds enveloped in dark yet serene atmospherics. With German percussionist Schwalm contributing softly swinging drumming, Eno is free to dabble in sounds ranging from Middle Eastern string quartets to crying machines and Vocoders to happy, babbling babies. One of Life's many highlights is Laurie Anderson's cameo on "Like Pictures Part #2," as she enunciates her words above the song's spooky, soothing ambiance. "Bloom" contrasts happy baby chatter against distorted heartbeats and sinister samples; "Night Traffic" paints an empty urban center at dusk with shifting shapes and '70s jazz percussion and piano. Throughout Drawn from Life, Eno and Schwalm cast a spell of spectral dislocation and foreboding. It's like what dying prostrate in the snow must be like--slow, sleepy, beautiful, and chilling. --Ken Micallef
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Of course, there are plenty of indications that we are listening to an Eno project: the non-unison handclaps on "Like Pictures II" (probably the clappers were only given instructions but couldn't see or hear one another), the medley of guitar and voice on "Rising Dust," the found voices (of Eno's two daughters Iriel and Darla) and sounds of kitchen activity on "Bloom," and those two mysterious stretches of silence after this track and the follow-up "Two Voices." I suspect that while you are listening intently to find out if something is going on at very low volume and you pay attention to what you are doing, you will discover that you are hearing everything in your surroundings more intensely (intenser?)-the hum of the air conditioner, a bird chirping outside, a neighbor's wind chimes, the sound of breeze-blown leaves outside the window. Try to enhance such listening experiences, and you are having an Eno moment.
The one thing we can count on Brian Eno not to do is let us put him in the kind of musical straitjacket supplied by our expectations and labels; he and his collaborators are always "thinking outside the box." I mention this because I've encountered some negative reaction to this CD. Eno's wiser devotees will recognize his need to transcend all that came before, respect it, and look forward to whatever aural adventure is offered next time around. In the meantime, these tracks can be savored over and over again, the musical equivalent of taking a pause and just experiencing all the fascinating things going on around us on a lazy, breezy summer day. Enjoy!
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"We had that piece, Two Voices, which we both wanted to include...Read more
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