The Island Biography at the time of Before and After Science. From the Jeffrey Morgan Archive.
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, now known simply as Brian Eno, is perhaps the most creative force in contemporary music today. A self-proclamed "non-musician" he has been voted the fourth best instrumentalist in the world -- in the miscellaneous category because Brian Eno definitely cannot be categorized. He is a modern "Renaissance Man"; musician, poet, trained artist and consummate Technologist.
Brian Eno was born in the town of Woodbridge in Sussex, England on May 15th, 1948. His early education was under religious (Catholic) auspices but at the age of 16 he decided to specialize in art and transferred to Ipswich Art School. It was during this period at Ipswich that Brian Eno first became interested in tape recorders and their potential as musical devices.
After two years at Ipswich Brian Eno switched to the world famous Winchester Art School where, along his continued study of fine arts he published poetry and formed his first bands; first, Merchant Taylor's Simultaneous Cabinet -- an avant-garde musical troupe and later a rock band named The Maxwell Demon who improvised at every concert while Brian Eno sang, making up the words as he went along. During this period he also owned 31 tape recorders.
In 1969, having officially earned a diploma in fine arts, Brian Eno moved to London. While playing his music at Art Labs, among other places, he worked as an electronics trader and newspaper designer to make a living. In 1971 he joined Roxy Music in its embryonic stages as mixer and electronic supervisor. It took over a year of rehearsing and personnel changes before Roxy Music was ready to perform in public. But once they did their success was almost an overnight phenomenon.
Eno had joined Roxy Music because one of the band's major intentions had been to create a whole new style from a synthesis of past styles and revolutionary techniques aided and abetted by a sophisticated visual presentation. Obviously, the intellectual and aesthetic aspirations involved in this concept were close to his heart. Brian Eno's use of electronics as an integral instrumental element of rock and roll was rightly hailed as highly original. Brian Eno's fame also grew as somewhat of a spacey-sex-symbol. "The technician became a kind of magician, charming audiences with an appearing sexy hermaphrodite pose on stage, a walking art object delineated in exquisitely applied mascara and adorned in gorgeous peacock plumes."
Brian Eno left Roxy Music in the summer of 1973 to pursue his own interests. His first project was a collaboration with King Crimson's leader Robert Fripp called "No Pussyfooting" (released in the United States on Island's Antilles series). Early 1974 saw the release of his first solo Island album, the critically acclaimed "Here Come The Warm Jets". This was followed by "Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy)" (Island) and "Discreet Music" (Antilles), all of which enhanced Brian Eno's reputation as the undisputed king of avant-garde music.
In addition to his solo efforts, Brian Eno has found time to collaborate on albums with, among others: John Cale, the founder of the legendary Velvet Underground and David Bowie who requested Brian Eno's help on his two latest albums "Heroes" and "Low". He has produced albums for the cream of the New Wave groups: Ultravox!, Devo and the upcoming Talking Heads album. Also to Brian Eno's credit are two books: "Music for Non-Musicians" and "Oblique Strategy" (with Peter Schmidt).
As for Brian Eno's philosophy, it is best left to the words of the master himself:
"It should be interesting to be confronted by a logic not one's own. But to carry information this logic must be credible, that is, it must be sufficiently familiar to create expectations in order that it may then surprise them. For me, this implies a tightness in the system at some level -- there has to be a grid of expectations that can be modulated -- such that change and novelty are seen as deviation from what was expected. Furthermore the anchorage that is provided by this grid must be physical as well as mental -- to do with the "felt" as well as the "thought" aspects of the music.
"The problem with believing the alibis is that they will always let you down. They will lead you to believe that everything will be clean and simple "if the system is right". But if the system is really right it will allow itself a controlled rate of exploratory error, for, since it shares with us the problem of survival, it must also share our deviance (flexibility)".
BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE is Brian Eno's latest and best album. It is also his most accessible to the general public. The album features Robert Fripp, Andy Fraser of Free and fellow ex-Roxyite Phil Manzanera, among others. The tracks (or programs as Brian Eno prefers to call them) range from purely spacey to jazz and disco influenced tunes. BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE may just be the world's ideal chance to catch up with Brian Eno.
Wayne Robins of NEWSDAY said, "Times have finally caught up with Eno, the terrific musical innovator and unofficial leader of England's avant-garde. BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE is his most "commercial album".
No One Receiving--3:50
Here He Comes--5:39
Julie With ... 6:16
By This River--3:00
Energy Fools The Magician--2:04
Through Hollow Lands--3:50
King's Lead Hat--3:48
Spider And I--4:06