Brian Eno, Another Green World

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

More even than its predecessor, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World sounds like a collage rather than a rock record; there's nothing to suggest that the slouching funk of "Sky Funk" and the aquatic "Little Fishes" necessarily came from the same ensemble or even the same room. That's not to suggest that it's incoherent, but its cohesion takes place at a higher level than mere instrumentation or atmosphere.

The original chillwave

Eno, a studio savant yet an untutored musician, surrounded himself with a number of talented colleagues, including the Velvet Underground's John Cale and several veterans of his previous albums — Paul Rudolf, Brian Turrington, Phil Collins, Robert Fripp. Rhett Davies, who had begun his engineering career on Taking Tiger Mountain, also returned. (The Oblique Strategies also played a key role, earning their first album credit.) But the studio is the real star, gathering together disparate strands of guitar, piano, synthesizer, drum machine and fretless bass into configurations that highlight the malleable nature of electronic sound. Notably, Eno went into the studio with no demos; only after four days of dead ends did songs begin coalescing.

Another Green World

Brian Eno

The record swings, pendulum-like, between flickering incidental sketches — Erik Satie as re-engineered by the Tyrell Corporation — and potent, supersaturated songcraft like "I'll Come Running," "Golden Hours" and "St. Elmo's Fire." The latter, pop perfection frosted with a bubbling psychedelic crest, is undoubtedly the record's stand-out track, but it's the short, atmospheric pieces that give the album its identity, blurring together like half-remembered dreams.

In retrospect, the album serves not only as a crucial stepping-stone in Eno's own creative development, but also as a hub for many divergent strains of experimental popular music. The title track presents a sound not far off from the limpid Krautrock of Harmonia, with whom Eno would soon collaborate. "Sky Saw" opens the album with slow, lopsided funk that anticipates the "Fourth World" meditations that Jon Hassell (who worked with Eno for 1980's Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics) would develop on his late '70s albums. Today, you can hear the album's influence everywhere from new wave to post-rock. Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts" heavily cops from "Sky Saw," whether consciously or no; Stereolab and Ui (as Uilab) covered "St. Elmo's Fire," which also provides the model for the fuzzy psychedelia of Magic Hour and a host of likeminded '90s bands. And it's virtually impossible to imagine the likes of Animal Collective or any of their ilk without Another Green World's original hypnogogic pop.