also by Brian Eno:
This has to be the least penetrable and the plain bizarrest of Eno's albums I've heard so far. From the master of careful sound design, 75 minutes of one-handed keyboard twiddling, crude off-the-shelf synth sounds and tinny percussion is difficult to take. With such a mechanical and loveless feel to it, it's not much more interesting than the average computer game or throwaway soundtrack music. The melodies are too dull for it to have any value as jazzy improvised electronica, and the sounds are too crude for it to make tasteful ambient wallpaper.
The individual pieces have no dynamics or tension, they just amble around within a tiny range. Much of the time the melodies are like a pupil playing on the school music-room Casio - though fortunately the the dull tinny beats that accompany them aren't samba or bossanova! It's not even clinical in a cool, techno way, for example "Boomcubist" is the kind of sparse electronica that Aphex Twin could have done better with a hand behind his back. Sometimes there's a hint that an interesting idea might be about to coalesce, but infuriatingly, most of the of tracks end with a lazy fade-out. The few moments of personality include the cute Jean-Michel Jarre style whizzes of "Dutch Blur", the distorted emptiness of "Back Clack", and the odd groaning voice that squirms around the tune of "Dear World".
"Iced World" seems randomly chosen as the one track that's going to be stretched out for half an hour. It's not evocative of very much other than a guy sitting bored in a studio, one hand half-heartedly twiddling on the piano on top of a couple of loops, including a mind-numbing clanking like a gnome banging a rock with a hammer. A tinny hihat spits out a seemingly mathematically random rhythm at the same time, which could have been interesting but is ultimately futile.
You would think that such an icon of rock intellect would never do anything without a reason, so it would be enlightening to seek out the intellectual inspiration behind "The Drop" and its content-free muzak. It may be the equivalent of the kind of modern art that's more concerned with the idea than the execution. But what idea? The English word "drop" can mean a lot of things: for example, to abandon an object to gravity, to leave someone out of a sports team, to give birth, or a boiled sweet. I've seen a suggestion that "drop" refers to superimposing arbitrary music onto a video soundtrack, to create semi-random multimedia art. Which is potentially interesting, but in itself, this album has about as much musical value as that boiled sweet.
June 28, 2006