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Brian Eno and Karl Hyde come together with a new album to be released May 6th on Warp Records. 'Someday World' comprises nine songs, composed and sung by Eno & Hyde together with a highly distinguished cast of supporting musicians. The release was produced by Brian Eno with 20 year old Fred Gibson, continuing an ongoing collaboration between Karl and Brian which sees the two together on a complete album for the very first time.
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Personally I have only dipped a toe into Enos recordings over the years but have enjoyed many of his production jobs, particularly for Talking Heads and James. However I was a huge fan of Karl Hydes early career in the form of Freur and Underworld (Mark I). I greatly enjoyed his recent release Edgeland but find this album even more fulfilling. For me, "Witness" shows Karl Hyde coming full circle and recording a song very similar in style and vocal delivery to some of the tracks on Change The Weather by Underworld.
I was a little disappointed in the lack of variety of the drum tracks and was a little surprised to see real drummers listed in the credits.
I found the production a little brittle in places but in fitting with many current releases.
Altogether I find this album highly enjoyable but think that a couple of those extra tracks from the deluxe set would have filled out the regular version of the CD nicely.
It opens with "Satellites" which builds in a fashion reminiscent of "On Some Far Away Beach." But the component parts coalesce into an altogether more contemporary piece that little resembles that song from Eno's first solo release except in the over-arching structure and the feel of the percussion track. On first hearing, the staccato horns driven backing track had me uncertain I was going to like where this was going, but the arrival of Eno's vocal is a totally satisfying pay-off, and the track becomes one of the album's high points.
"Daddy's Car" feels like it could have been a lost track from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Yet, it is no second-string effort. The hyper, vaguely Latin percussion, which Eno has toyed with for some time now, is far more successful here than anywhere I've heard him employ it before.
"Witness" features the type of tight edgy vocal harmonies that spiced Wrong Way Up's "Crime In the Desert" (and alludes to that song's "honky-tonk" tack piano) then drops in the flat female vocal reciting a list, that Eno used on Another Day On Earth. Yet these recycled ideas don't feel stale; they seem to have matured into something fresh and energetic.
The backing track for "Mother of a Dog" is essentially a re-working of "Fractal Zoom" from Nerve Net. But that doesn't become apparent until we are well into the track. And what a brilliantly successful re-visitation of these musical ideas! On first listen, Hyde's lyrics seemed a little overly clever, but their rhythmic qualities have won me over, and this is now one of my favorite songs on this release.
"Who Rings the Bell" would be right at home on Another Day on Earth, but if were on that CD, it would be one of its strongest tracks.
The instrumental solo in "When I Built This World" is straight out of the "unwelcome jazz" first (and last) heard on The Drop. Here, the genius behind that much criticized musical experiment is finally realized in a much more accessible and satisfying form.
When an artist overtly appropriates this much of his own back catalogue, the result may fondly remind fans of former glories, but rarely rises to those same levels. But on this CD, none of this comes off as rehashing of once fresh ideas. Instead, it feels like the musical ideas Eno has been experimenting with since the late 80s have suddenly matured and coalesced into a very satisfying, energetic and fresh realization. Highly recommended for repeat listens. And the bonus tracks on the deluxe version, though mostly weaker than the core tracks, are worth having, particularly "Titian Bekh."
That's why they sound at once both like "classic Eno" and modern Hyde-pop a la Edgeland. In a way this release harkens back to Russell Mills Undark One: Strange Familiar (1996) and Pearl & Umbra (1999), which similarly recycled unfinished songs.
With all this history behind it there's a depth and multi-facetedness you didn't get with Eno's live collaborations with John Cale (Wrong Way Up) or Jah Wobble (Spinner). Fans of Eno's great quartet of vocal albums will not be disappointed, even though the production and sparkle is fully 2014. Some of the songs seem more Hyde than Eno, such as the opening number "The Satellites" which displays a rather pedestrian 4/4 drumbox foundation. Things get better after that.
I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with this album.
Edit 5 weeks later: I must report this album hasn't grown on me like I hoped it would. It's a bit samey-sounding, with too many "Nerve Net" rhythms (chunka-chunka-chunka) and too much monotone singing (no melody and dumb lyrics). I realize you can't revisit the classic quartet of Eno vocal albums, but this new one really isn't in the same ballpark is it? It's an interesting collaboration, but really a lot more Hyde than Eno -- and none-the-better for it.