BRIAN ENO: Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp Records)


Posted on Nov 3rd 2010 01:12 am

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Brian Eno: Small Craft On A Milk Sea

Small Craft On A Milk Sea
Warp Records 2010
15 Tracks. 48mins56secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP/CD BOX | DLD US: CD | LP/CD BOX | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

Musician, producer, composer… there is little Brian Eno hasn’t tried his hand at. For his latest album, his first for Warp, he has teamed up once again with regular collaborators Jon Hopkins, with whom he had most notably previously worked with on his 2005 album And Then So Clear, and guitarist Leo Abrahams, who has appeared on a number of Eno’s records in the last ten years, to create an album which, like many of his previous work, is inspired in part by film soundtracks.

As one of the pioneers of electronic music, and one of the most influential musicians of his generation, it seems quite fitting that Eno is making an appearance on Warp, a label which has over the years channelled many of Eno’s followers and has, in its own right, been a vehicle for many defining electronic artists of the last twenty years. That this record actually shares a particular aesthetic with some of these artists will be all the more welcome by most.

The fruit of lengthy improvisation sessions during which the trio aimed primarily at creating a series of sonic landscapes rather than focusing on definite song structures, Small Craft On a Milky Sea is a somewhat colourful and varied collection of small vignettes, most of which are kept under the four minute mark. There is quite a clear progression through the album, from the three delicate atmospheric pieces which open the album to the much more rhythmic series of tracks which follow, starting with the rather harsh and dry Flint March and the darker, textured, Horse and 2 Forms Of Anger, which comes complete with heavy electrical discharges, to the more complex, and often dubbey Bone Jump, Dust Shuffle or Paleosonic, and back to soft-focussed ambient melodies. It is almost as if two very different albums had been assembled into one, but while this could have ended up sounding a tad disjointed, it actually sounds surprisingly coherent.

Combining gentle elegant ambient soundscapes, electronic textures and angular rock forms, the trio create extremely contrasted pieces, and, for the most part of the album, refuse to settle for long on any particular mood. Things change in the last section, when the vaporous and dense Slow Ice, Old Moon signals a radically return to Eno’s exquisite moody musical forms, especially with the wonderfully fluid piano-led Emerald And Stone and ethereal Lesser Heaven and Late Anthropocene, which echo the opening moments of the record an bring the album to a logical conclusion.

With Small Craft On A Milk Sea, Eno brings some of the many themes he has experimented with over the years together under one umbrella, and while it is not exactly the first time, he does so with particular convincingly here. The album benefits greatly of the confident relationship between the three musicians, and if some may regret that they didn’t push a little further into exploratory grounds, this album proves a very enjoyable journey from start to finish.


Brian Eno | Warp Records
Amazon UK: CD | LP/CD BOX | DLD US: CD | LP/CD BOX | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

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Comments (2)

2 Responses to “BRIAN ENO: Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp Records)”

  1. amidaon 06 Nov 2010 at 7:29 am

    (I think you mean Another Day on Earth, rather than “And Then So Clear,” the former being the album and the latter being my favorite track on it.)

  2. themilkmanon 09 Nov 2010 at 9:56 am

    Er, yes, you’re entirely right. Will amend that later on, apologies for the rather stupid mistake.