Various Artists – Cleopatra Records, A Tribute To The Music & Works Of Brian Eno

Mark Richardson

By Mark Richardson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Brian Eno is a difficult subject for a tribute record, especially if attempting any kind of career overview. First, there's the matter of his two identities, weighing the less plentiful experimental pop work against the depth of his ambient catalog. Then there's the subtlety and specificity of his music, in which particular timbres arrived at after long hours of studio tinkering are essential to the overall effect of a piece. So it's not surprising that this compilation works best when the artists concentrate on moving Eno's music into the present, offering a contemporary twist to a familiar sound. There would be little point in a faithful cover of "Third Uncle," for example, as so much late-'70s, early-'80s and now '80s-retro post-punk borrows from Eno's jagged rhythm template. But Astralasia's trancey house version, which retains the gothic feel of the original while super-sizing the repetition, helps us see the song in a new light. Another interesting update comes from Controlled Bleeding, as they effectively replace the crude drum machine of the original "Somber Reptiles" with a vast wall of industrial/tribal beats. Less progressive but equally fun, Chrome foreground the guitar on "Here Come the Warm Jets" to celebrate the distinctive instrumental as a simple and catchy rave-up. Covers of the ambient material like Surface 10's take on "Ending" (from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks) are a tougher sell, with too much focus on the minimal melody and not enough commentary on the essential texture of the sound, but overall, A Tribute to the Music & Works of Brian Eno is a qualified success.