Brian Eno – The Ship – Album Review by Killian Laher
After collaborating with Underworld on his last album, Eno returns to more familiar ground on The Ship. We all have our idea as to what Eno is like, but trying to describe that is another matter. For many, ‘the father of ambient’, it seems like he has always been with us, releasing defiantly low key albums every few years.
The 21 minute opening track does a fair approximation of emulating the sea. It opens with tranquil, keyboard drones drifting gently along for six minutes before Eno sings. Eno being Eno, it’s not conventional singing, his heavily treated vocals boom through the track for another six minutes before tailing off, as the track heads for an elongated coda consisting of what at first seem to be random sounds, bleeps, keyboards, whispered conversation giving a fair representation of the aforementioned ship adrift. After a few listens, it coalesces into deeper, darker waters. It’s an extraordinary piece in a fairly extraordinary body of work.
After such a peak, you’d be forgiven for thinking the rest of the album wouldn’t measure up. However Fickle Sun is almost as long as the title track. It unfolds like a slowed to a crawl, ancient folk song over creepy electronica that incorporates stabs of woodwind, machine whirrs alternating with tranquil passages. Following this the album takes another turn, actor Peter Serafinowicz recites The Hour Is Thin over piano backing, before an elegiac, graceful version of the Velvet Underground’s I’m Set Free for probably the most conventional and uplifting moment of the collection. Let’s hope for many more albums from Brian Eno.
1. The Ship
2. Fickle Sun (i)
3. Fickle Sun (ii) The Hour Is Thin
4. Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free