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16 July 2013

Eno - 'Here Come the Warm Jets' (Island)

Here come a run of records that will be hard to write about because I've listened to them to death and there's not much new to say. In fact, when I listen now, I have to struggle to hear new things, which is not to say I am in any way 'bored' with Here Come the Warm Jets. But certainly, the iconic cuts have been played to death, so I no longer have much to say about 'Needles in the Camel's Eye' or 'Baby's on Fire' except that when I hear them played in public places (a bar, restaurant, club, or dentist's office) then I'm delighted to know said establishment has good taste. The more disturbing and edgy tracks are the ones I enjoy the most - 'Driving Me Backwards' is possibly Eno's greatest achievement, as it feels like a metaphor that can apply to so many zillions of scenarios - the 1970s British economy, the pressures of creative inspiration - or maybe it's just about nothing. The jets of the title track and 'On Some Faraway Beach' are indeed warm, dragging me into a murky, pleasant sound bath, with genteel melodies circling around some undefined dynamo. 'Blank Frank' is like the evil version of the Beach Boys' SMiLE - psychedelic, sure, but it's all bad vibes and menace, with just as much invention in the studio. These records, especially Another Green World, somehow get away with guitar tones that would sound horrendous in most other contexts. 'Blank Frank's solo sounds more like a paper shredder, yet I wouldn't call it proto-industrial. I have a thing for 'Some of them are Old' and 'Put A Straw Under Baby' (on Tiger Mt.) because I love Eno's pure melodicism; the songs are like nursery-rhymes with bizarre, intangible lyrics and stick in my head deeper than the rockers ('It will follow you, it will follow you...'). The breakdown on 'Some of Them are Old', with it's weird slide guitar arpeggios and buzzsaw/tabla contradicitons, is among the most sublime passages on any Eno recording I've heard, and the reverb-drenched church bell coda is an oft-overlooked island of calm. I'm an unabashed Eno fan, but also a shitty one that doesn't stick with his recent material (recent meaning, oh, the last 25 years or so). A Year with Swollen Appendices, his book from 1995, is maybe his greatest gift to the creative world (even more than the Oblique Strategies) but when viewed holistically, his career somehow maintains a consistent approach to exploration throughout - there's never anything that feels like it wasn't worth trying.

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