Brian Eno should, in many ways have never released a record. The man himself was an insanely talented keyboard player and manipulator of sound, but his songwriting ability was without doubt questionable during his tenure at Roxy Music. So he did what now seems to be the absolute unthinkable and started releasing quirky glam rock albums of his own, largely focused on the swirling vortex of his vocals and pounding drum rhythms. He is of course better known for his ambient music excursions (probably coming up with the term 'ambient' to define a style of music that was better suited to the background of even the most polite of dinner parties).
In 1977, Eno had done ambient stuff, Another Green World and Discreet Music had satisfied his need for quirky electronic music that would struggle to invade the most intent listener's subconscious. Instead it seemed that the man had been spending too much time in Germany with his new pals, Cluster, and wanted a catharsis of his Glam forebodings. He did that with Before and After Science, and even threw in a bit of 'krautrock', just because he is that insanely talented.
Low, The Idiot and Before and After Science. Three albums which David Bowie had immeasurable input into, and the last of the three is perhaps the most interesting. A blend of Eno's old band sound, screeching horns and punchy drumming, with his new style of swathes of synth and Earth heavy bass confounding the sound in a heady and often bewildering mix. It is Eno's best album of this style, and tracks like King's Lead Hat (an anagram of his then favourite band, Talking Heads), No-One Recieving (maybe a blatant Bowie rip-off, but a tasteful and extremely enjoyable one, and no less unique), and the Roxy-esque Backwater.
The album, like the aforementioned other two, is one of two sides, undoubtedly. The first side of Before and After Science is a rolling and pacy rock affair with Eno's not so great, but extremely suited robotic vocals combining with his unbelievable production techniques. The 2nd side is a more measured and ambient one, with By This River featuring the endless talents of Cluster lads, Dieter Moeibus and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Spider and I rounds the album off, and it is perhaps the most tender song Eno ever wrote, a morbid but fascinating experiment in something Boards of Canada were certainly listening to.
It is a great album, if not for it's schizophrenic split sides, but for it's wholly great and well thought out songwriting from Eno. The upbeat tracks are some of his best ever, and the ambient ones are German influenced and as such very experimental affairs. Before and After Science may be forgotten amongst the 'true' "Berlin Trilogy", but it's sound fits perfectly with Low and the Idiot, complimenting the harsh, bizarre tones of the Idiot, and keeping pace with the ruthless experimental tracks of Low. Eno may have released his first release five years previous, but on this album his sound matures and finds itself a ruthlessly experimental edge, which he carried with him for the rest of his career - to date.
haha i have a very short attention span, i was going to do the cazazza review today but i was listening to music and king's lead hat came on my shuffle so i thought "gotta rate B&AS on sputnik". and lo-and behold it was not even reviewed! monte cazazza later tonight / tomorrow, pending when this is off the first page, guaranteed. very interesting man the old monte..heh!
i always think, the idea of playing MfA in an actual airport is hilarious, it would be wasted on the general population, many of who would prefer akon or chris brown. perhaps thats the point though, haha!
in a word: yes. it's really as different as you could imagine to that, the ambient stuff sounds ethereal, disembodied and completely without a master, this is more clearly song orientated, you can tell eno has written an album here deliberately contrasting iggy pop and bowie's influential releases of the same year. it's like roxy music, without brian ferry really, though at times he does do a crude but enjoyable impression of ferry. ha.
haha! on a side note, i also have a lot of respect for you for reviewing metal machine music. whenever we have a party here and i want people to leave the next day i put that on and hide the source from whence it comes, it is extremely effective
i used to be firmly convinced that all his stuff (save for AGW) that wasn't ambient was shit. i bit the bullet and bought this and TTMBS, and literally my opinion changed straight away. it's great to see he can do both types of completely different music so well, especially the whole glam-punk type thing goin on here.