By Richard Cromelin, from Island Records Inc publicity information. Kindly supplied by Jeffrey Morgan.
-- Piet Hein
When Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno calls himself a non-musician, he isnt confessing a fault or admitting a deficiency. His self-evaluation us a proud stroke against obsolete concepts in rocknroll, he is a madcap ringmaster in the center ring introducing an act that will not only make music sound different, but change what it means.
Hes called Eno; you may put Brian in front if you like. From 1972 through August 73, he, electro-wizard in peacock feather radiance, the sultry Marlene Dietrich of rock n roll, was one of the most visible elements of the suddenly most visible band in the land. The faintly sinister, futuristic pole opposite Bryan Ferrys urbane elegance. Its been said that somewhere between the two there existed Roxy Music. Eno left the group on July 23, 1973.
Eno had originally joined them as sound mixer and electronics supervisor on the invitation of Roxys saxophonist/oboeist Andrew Mackay, who met Eno when the latter lectured at Reading University. Englands art schools have produced some of Englands greatest pop figures, Eno being the latest in that distinguished lin of descent. From 1964-66 he studied painting at Ipswich Art School (after elementary education at the Convent of Jesus and Mary and St Josephs College), and went on to Winchester College of Art where he became involved in the non-disciplines on which he non-bases his art conceptual art, machines, processes, sound. Influenced by such notable contemporary composers as John Tilbury and Cornelius Cardew, he formed the avant-garde troupe Merchant Taylors Simultaneous Cabinet and a rock band called Maxwell Demon.
And it was here that he discovered the tape recorder. He once owned 31 at a time.
Clear statement is like an art object: it is the afterlife of the process which called it into being. The process itself is the significant step Edmund Carpenter
It seems to me that every invention this century has been to do with seeing things in terms of processes, not statics. Eno, interviewed in Sounds
The tape recorder (his favorite instrument) processes, collages time. A year ago the shelves of his wall held one-and-a-half million feet of tape. To each can be added, at whim or will, the sounds of an Eno whos very different from the Eno who made a tape a long time ago. When he sang with Maxwell Demon at Winchester he made up the words as he went along. Eno understands that situations influence music, that simply turning an instrument on changes the preconceived musical idea. He knows that there is no such thing as pure repetition of a sound, because with each return it changes according to the listeners growing familiarity. Eno accepts the inevitability of flaws, is fond of incorporating mistakes, and so appreciates the Velvet Underground. He savors a chaotic (while emotionally coherent) synthesis of diverse instruments, and so he joined Roxy Music.
Eno admits to intellectual premises (unfashionable in rock n roll) and intuitive, emotional processes (likewise in the fine arts). He keeps journals which he fills with graphs, charts, diagrams; but he claims that he does his best work when hes tired and his will yields to his intuition, and he says he thinks that the accidents are more interesting than the things he does intentionally. Many of his ideas are extracted directly from his dreams. His Dada was a postman.
Music is no longer for listening to, but for merging with. Carpenter, ibid.
One of the things that Im particularly interested in is the overall quality of sound, the synergy of sound, that is the sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Eno, ibid.
Eno is rock n roll, Eno is pop. Hes recorded a single, Seven Deadly Finns, and is generally fascinated by the format. Though not in love with the life of the touring musician, he took his live show on the road in England where, backed by a pub band called Winkies, he offered selections from his initial solo release, Here Come The Warm Jets. The album features oplaying by King Crimsons Robert Fripp, Chris Spedding of Sharks, Hawkwinds Simon King and others of adventurous persuasion, all under Enos aegis. In such situations he creates the chemistry, merges the ingredients, and incorporates the fact that no one can precisely predict the outcome.
Eno prefers to write (or recall from dreams) lyrics of low definition, non-specific words that involve the listener more thoroughly and lend the piece a suggestion of mysrtey. He has listed the qualities that endorse the kinds of feelings I try to inject into the music: sexy / insane / grotesque / sinister / beautiful / passionate / incessant / desperate / angular / reptilian (from a catalogue note for the Museum of Modern Art, Lucerne).
I never erase anything. Eno, ibid.
Among the projects (some in progress, some completed, some conceptual) Eno has undertaken since leaving Roxy Music are: Here Come The Warm Jets; ACNE (a colation of himself, John Cale, Nico and Kevin Ayers); producing many records John Cale, Andy Mackay, Portsmouth Sinfonia (a collection of amateur musicians who play your favourite classics), Magoic Michael (itinerant songsmith), Pan-Am Steelband, and Moodies (an all-woman band); No Pussyfooting, an album of Fripp guitar treated with tape and synthesizer by Eno, recorded in one day in Enos home (cheap and successful); the invention of the electric larynx bondage meets electronic music; the Plastic Eno Band (the sounds of Enos extensive collection of plastic instruments manipulated on tape); and Luana and the Lizard Girls (One of the Lizard Girls is bound, naked and gagged, face down on the operating table. One of the rhythm guitarists is stretching her arms. Luana the surgeon lifts the whip (the bamboo whip). The first six blows occur at regular school intervals. The pace quickens for the final eleven ) based on, what else, a dream; and, of course, a second, even more ambitious album, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).
In Taking Tiger Mountain Eno is aided and abetted by, amoung others, Roxys Phil Manzanera and former Soft Machinist, Matching Moler, and the only avant-gardist to have a major hit with an old Monkees tune (Neil Diamonds cassic Im A Believer), Robert Wyatt. Also appearing at different points in the ascension of Tiger Mountain are The Portsmouth Sinfonia, Randi & The Pyramids, The Simplistics and Roxys Andy Mackay.
As in the past, Enos use of language serves to pre-determine the direction of the listeners mind. Such titles as Burning Airlines Give You So Much More, The Fat Lady Of Limbourg and Mother Whale Eyeless leave no question as to Enos disorienting intentions, and he follows through marvelously, both lyrically and musically.
Enos strategy employs musics of varied styles and origins from primitive to futuristic; jazz to classical; circus to ragtime; and even some tried and true rock n roll. Taking Tiger Mountain is a collage of images delved from Enos mind and mindlessness. His vision is sometimes disturbing and sometimes elevating, but, nonetheless, Eno has become a truly unique force in music.
The specialist has become a comic figure, replaced by the artist. Carpenter, ibid.
I maintain that one of my talents is being completely amateur in everything I do. Eno, 19 Magazine.
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno was born on May 15, 1948, in Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Psychologists were recently called in to aid a boy who couldnt move or speak unless an electronic cord , attached to his body, was plugged in. Carpenter, ibid.