The problem with Brian Eno is that he’s just a bit boring these days. The Ship is magnificently and carefully crafted but is ultimately a dull listening experience and I never thought I would write that about Brian Eno.
I love the brilliant, inventive and quirky early solo stuff like Here Come the Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. Of course, now he dismisses these records has being naïve juvenilia and says he is embarrassed by them.
He’s got proficient you see, by hanging around too many real musicians and studio technician types and now thinks it is important to attain certain production standards. Yes, The Ship sounds superbly recorded but rather coldly languid if not insipid – all soundscapes and posh verbal intonements regarding the great ship itself The Titanic.
Eno has been banging out this sort of thing for a long time now. Highly crafted slow-moving slabs of avant-garde background sound. I’ve been hooked into buying a couple of these records in the last few years.
There was 2005s Another Day on Earth grabbed my attention with the oldest trick in the book. It was promoted by the distribution of a catchy song called This. It seemed like and was heralded as a return to form. “Form” being song-based material. I rushed out to buy the album only to find it otherwise consists of relatively non-song instrumental dirges.
The Ship was pre-announced by the online release of I’m Set Free. It’s a beautiful rendition of the Lou Reed Velvet Underground song (it’s on the 1969 self-titled album) and it is touchingly wonderful. But it does not seem to connect or fit with the subject or sentiments of the rest of the album in any way.
Buy the song on line and sensibly miss The Ship. It’s a sinker.