Brian Eno – Small Craft On A Milk Sea
There’s a certain inevitability to Brian Eno joining up with Warp Records to release an album. The label has launched many an influential electronic musician’s career, and much of its output is often directly inspired from Eno’s pioneering ambient work in the 1970s. Considering he is currently been more notable for his production work (Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, or, Death And All His Friends, for instance) and collaborations (such as his 2008 album with David Byrne) than his own solo work, this was as good a time as any to begin to make waves with Small Craft On A Milk Sea, his first Warp release.
Recorded with longtime collaborators Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins, Small Craft is undoubtedly a largely ambient work, but it is also often more rhythmically aggressive than one expects from Eno. Not to say that he hasn’t explored more abrasive soundscapes in the past, but when Abrahams’ guitar slams in and all hell breaks loose on “2 Forms Of Anger,” Eno is clearly mining different terrain. Others like the shuffling “Flint March” and the jagged “Horse” follow suit. Still, it is the gentler and more atmospheric tracks where he truly excels. Sister tracks “Emerald and Stone” and “Emerald and Lime” are two gorgeous keyboard pieces that approach the same melody in different ways, while the eerie menace of “Calcium Needles” and the pensive closer “Late Anthropocene” bring darker, murkier shades into the mix. Occasionally the songs feel like underdeveloped filler—Eno has worked with short-form ambient compositions before, but here a few songs aren’t given the room to flourish. These tracks, though, even have their moments of beauty, helping to make Small Craft On A Milk Sea one of the best albums Eno has produced in his latter-day career and proof that the master can still get the job done.