Brian Eno – Foreverandevernomore (UMC) (Album Review)

Brian Eno has just released Foreverandevernomore and The 13th Floor’s Jeff Neems gives it a spin.

Famed for his production work with megastars such as U2, David Bowie and Coldplay, the superbly named Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno is an accomplished musician in his own right.

Brian EnoThe veteran Brit is among the most influential figures in contemporary music, pioneering and perfecting techniques and musical approaches  which have already carved him a stunning reputation and a revered place in music history. So-called “ambient” music is his main artistic form, the sort of stuff you might drift off to sleep to while being needled by your friendly local acupuncturist.

Musically and …er… spiritually, ambient can be quite marvelous, wafting along unobtrusively and taking the listener on a gentle ride through clever yet simple soundscapes, while enveloping you in a cocoon of warmth and digital comfort.

While not one of my usual flavors, I’ve got a soft spot for ambient and I rate The Orb’s Live album – and accompanying concerts of the mid-1990s –  as among my favourite musical experiences. Done well, ambient is quite amazing.

And on Foreverandevernomore, Mr Eno does what he does best: deliciously delicate musical landscapes which wash over the listener like the tropical ocean on white-sand beach, gently cleansing every crappy feeling from your person. It all sounds bloody lovely.

Except, that is, for the singing. I’m using singing in a fairly broad sense because it’s more sort of melodic warbling. At times topical, other times melancholic, other times reflective, every now and then wistful – it’s all just warble warble warble, a myriad of gentle babbling which sort of just fills space on the songs. As a result, no single tune really stands out or requires a replay.

Now, Mr Eno isn’t a bad singer and his lyrics do indeed tackle our species damage to the planet and our somewhat bleak future. His daughter Darla features too, and she has a lovely voice. Definitely top score for family connections and using your art to make a point.

The problem with the warble-singing is it feels rather pointless and unnecessary. It kills the vibe, you might say. One moment you’re drifting along on a wave of sonic goodness, complete with tropical bird song, and then in comes – out of nowhere – Mr Eno with an overly thoughtful cryptic ramble about how we’ve absolutely stuffed the planet.

I wanted to like Foreverandevernomore. I really did. I really liked the musical landscapes Mr Eno creates, and as you’d expect, it’s beautifully produced.

But I’m unlikely to ever revisit this album because ultimately it’s depressing – a moody, mournful and bleak reflection on where we appear to have gone wrong as a species. I work in the environmental sector, I know the score.

Strictly for the Eno fans and militant climate campaigners, I’d say.

Jeff Neems