Before And After Science - Brian Eno

A review by Joe Fernbacher from Creem, April 1978, kindly typed up and supplied by Steve.

Brian Eno is a mechanized anathema. The sounds of Eno are the collected sounds of some sentient alien seltzer busily digesting a greasy heart that's too big for its own cogs. The Metropolis moke master of machine squirm has all the chops to counteract the current deluge of amentia in a misinformed, misunderstood punknology, as well as an extraordinary sense of image that takes him on occasion beyond mere musician on into the murky realms of sonic painter. And it's as a sonic painter where Eno will eventually leave his mark.

On his last release, Another Green World, Eno failed to match up his musical tiffany, machine head rigescence and livid language grins. That album contained stunning examples of all three, but somehow it was all fragmented and never quite meshed toether the way it should've been. The musical tiffany was there on "Somber Reptiles," the machine head rigescence on "Sky Saw" and the livid language grin on "Becalmed," but there wasn't a single tune that incorporated all three levels of Eno's marmoreal musical magic. Such earlier language tics as "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch," "Needles In The Camel's Eye" and "Mother Whale Eyeless" also reflected this inbred split in his musical personality.

Well, it seems that Eno's music has again progressed, and so has his understanding of the word as rhythm. On Before And After Science the balance has been achieved and the perfect Eno album released. This will be the album that'll enable even the novitiate complete access into his world of abstraction and absorbtion, as well as enriching the world of distraction and disruption already experienced by the seasoned Enoite.

The underlying tension between image and sound is almost unbearable on a few of the songs. "Here He Comes" constantly threatens some portentous climax both musically and lyrically, but it never happens; instead, the tension is taken into still other levels of sublime calm on the following song, "Julia with..." which is the perfect Eno song, the perfect fusion of image and rhythm. Most of the songs are sly paintings covering some oblique overall theme. "Energy Fools The Magician" sounds like it might be some kind of Uriah Heepish song but it ain't, instead it's a glowing report on magic and science and how together they rule the world. So if you're expecting some sort of raking carburetor "tohubohu," forget it. Eno remains as shapeless and idoless as ever, and his music is beyond as well as before and after science.