Review Summary: After the Heat is an absorbing work of art spanning an impressive spectrum of quirky electronic experiments, classical piano, and peaceful ambiance.
Brian Eno and Cluster came into their own during the mid-1970s, releasing most of their finest work and experimenting wildly. Eno emerged as a fearless innovator, particularly in the studio. His fascination with the ambient / krautrock duo Cluster led to their collaboration and recording original material with krautrock producer Conny Plank in Germany. These sessions occurred in June 1977, resulting in the two albums Cluster & Eno
and After the Heat
, released one year apart. While recorded in the same time frame, After the Heat
sounds like an expansion of the already excellent Cluster & Eno
, sounding more ambitious, diverse, and certainly stranger overall.
Album opener "Oil" is a droning track with a repeating two-note bass line and various sound effects layered over one another. Many of the pieces follow this pattern, taking after the shorter songs from Eno's masterpiece Another Green World
. This album would be the last in some time where Eno sings, with one of the finest vocal performances of his career in album highlight "The Belldog." Swelling synths and a descending, pulsating electronic melody come together with Eno's singing to sound almost like a theme song for a James Bond film.
“Base & Apex” is a driving track that brings Kraftwerk to mind due to the looping electronics throughout. “Broken Head” is the definition of deadpan, due no small part to the strange, monotone vocals by Eno. Atonal drones and what sounds like slowed down siren noises make for the most challenging piece on the record. "Tzima N'Arki" has some of the best instrumental performances of the album, including a dynamic bass line played by Holger Czukay from Can. Eno’s singing from the chorus of his song “King’s Lead Hat” from Before and After Science
is played in reverse, and while still a great song, probably would have been even better as a pure instrumental.
Despite veering into more bizarre territory at times, After the Heat
largely takes after the mellower styles of Cluster & Eno
. The alluring nature of "Luftschloß," The Shade," and "Old Land" resemble the soothing qualities of Eno's well-known ambient pieces like "Ambient 1/1" and "An Ending (Ascent)."
After the Heat
manages to keep an impressive balance of strange electronic experiments and ambient soundscapes. Wistful piano notes and airy synths exist alongside throbbing bass lines and repeated synthesizer melodies for an otherworldly and engrossing album. It sounds right at home with Cluster's Sowiesoso
and Brian Eno's mid-late 70s releases.
The underrated duo of albums Cluster & Eno
and After the Heat
live up to the main releases by Brian Eno and Cluster, as well as their peers from the U.K. and Germany. After the Heat
is an absorbing work of art spanning an impressive spectrum of quirky electronic experiments, classical piano, and peaceful ambiance.