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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Mission Under A Strangely Coloured Sky!
During the first ten years of the new century, Brian Eno has released some albums that come close to his classics of the seventies and eighties, for example DRAWN FROM LIFE, with Peter Schwalm, or the brilliant song cycle ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH. Now, the creator of ambient music has released his first solo album on Warp Records, specialists for experimental, electronic pop...
Published on 11 Sep 2010 by song_x

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some More Music For Short Films
I think it may be helpful to understand that this is a collection similar to "More Music For Films" and "Music For Films Vol 3", rather than "Music For Airports", "On Land: Ambient 4", "The Pearl" or "Thursday Afternoon". The tracks average 3 minutes, most with beats and quirky rythmns, so I'm unlikely to use it as a backdrop for when I'm working. When I listen to it, I'm...
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by Paul Andrews


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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Mission Under A Strangely Coloured Sky!, 11 Sep 2010
During the first ten years of the new century, Brian Eno has released some albums that come close to his classics of the seventies and eighties, for example DRAWN FROM LIFE, with Peter Schwalm, or the brilliant song cycle ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH. Now, the creator of ambient music has released his first solo album on Warp Records, specialists for experimental, electronic pop. And he is working with some soulmates, Leo Abrahams (guitar, laptop, weird sounds) and Jon Hopkins (piano, electronics, strange sounds).

Good companionship for a purely instrumental record that reaches far out - and starts almost too beautiful, with the ambient sugar of EMERALD AND LIME. But even this soft starter has some grainy elements of total emptiness in it - the picture of a silent sea springs to mind (a picture Eno has often recurred to in his songs). The following three soundscapes belong to the 1000 places you will have to go to before you die. COMPLEX HEAVEN, SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA and the driving, irresistible rhythms of FLINT MARCH contain everything you expect from great Eno pieces, a sense of wonder, and an ambivalent field of emotion. On FLINT MARCH, the elastic drums add to an exercise of nearly uninhibited joie de vivre (but even here, as repeated listening reveals, some dark forces are working in the background).

This 15-track journey then continues with some wild pieces, a quiet foreboding of danger, and rough passages with frenetic guitar playing: sometimes Eno loves to push sounds to the verge of falling apart. The listener is getting lost in a very interesting way - between child-like moods, disturbing fields of sound, apparitions of naked beauty. And, finally, after some upheaval and dancing on a razorblade, the quiet atmospheres of the beginning re-enter the scenery: WRITTEN, FORGOTTEN & LATE ANTHROPACENE explore a quality of peacefulness and yearning beyond kitsch and wrong happy endings by just touching a deep zone of human experience.

This is definitely a record Eno-friendly minds and a lot of newcomers will return to again and again. SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA is so fresh, so full of wonder, so far away from being a repetition of any other Eno album. Of course, there are some spirits drifting: on COMPLEX HEAVEN Eno sounds like channeling his early piano treatments for Harold Budd. The first track, EMERALD AND LIME, has a kind of Roedelius flair. But, well, on this great work even the memories are inventive - playing tricks under a strangely coloured sky!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eno cuts himself - and bleeds a bit, 21 Nov 2010
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Mr. S. N. Lumb "vidyavajra" (Cambridge,UK) - See all my reviews
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It's quite a while since I've been excited by the stuff that Eno's been releasing in recent decades. Either he's released more ambience into the world than it either needs,cares for, or can take, or the well modulated and controlled songs of Another Day On Earth. Though these have been nice additions to the lexicon, they elict no cigars. Only in his collaborative work, has there ever been some sense of exploration. But this has always been so, from Roxy through Talking Heads, Bowie and U2 on. Working with other peoples ideas in conjunction with his own loosens the creative reins of control, and something random and magically unexpected happens.

His work with Fripp having reached an impasse, it was only on Drawn from Life with Peter Schwalm, ( 2001 ) that we last saw Eno really breaking out of his neat oblique process. It surprises me that a process allegedly so experimental and changeable, can end up producing a body of recent work so uniformly consistent in character. Perhaps he has indeed become defined, if not confined, within his own category - Enoesque

Small Craft on a Milky Sea,however,does frequently gouge new grooves into Eno's undoubtedly broad range of recordings. Maybe this comes from the 'improvisatory' nature of the source material. On 'Horse','2 Forms of Anger,Flint March' 'Paleosonic' and 'Dust Shuffle'we hear an Eno I thought had almost become extinct, one with sharp, aggressive, harsh even discordant edges. Oh what great joy it is to hear these tracks!

Yes, there are still plenty of the recumbent, languid landscapes, as on 'Emerald and Lime' and the rather beautiful title track 'Small Craft on a Milky Sea, but these are rather contained,refined examples of the form. The album moves through a range of moods, suggestive of reflection, apprehension, anger or fearfulness, in equal measure. Just when you've relaxed into a dreamy imaginary sunset, comes an exultant storm of energy. Producing one of his most satisfying albums for quite some time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some More Music For Short Films, 17 Jan 2011
By 
Paul Andrews (Rossett, UK) - See all my reviews
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I think it may be helpful to understand that this is a collection similar to "More Music For Films" and "Music For Films Vol 3", rather than "Music For Airports", "On Land: Ambient 4", "The Pearl" or "Thursday Afternoon". The tracks average 3 minutes, most with beats and quirky rythmns, so I'm unlikely to use it as a backdrop for when I'm working. When I listen to it, I'm hearing what I think are pieces of background music to a documentary on geology or something. The production quality is of a very high standard and it's interesting, but for me, not particularly enjoyable. I enjoy an awful lot of music that has Brian Eno's involvement so I'll keep going back to this, but if it disappeared from my collection overnight I probably wouldn't notice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, deep and definitely not ambient, 9 Aug 2012
If you've come to this CD looking for relaxing Brian Eno ambient music then you've come to the wrong place. This collaborative recording between Eno, John Hopkins and Leo Abrahams contains some dark, edgy music that demands your attention; comfortable background music it ain't. Perhaps because of that it takes a few listens to get used to but once you've tuned in, it becomes more rewarding with each play.

Don't approach this thinking it's an Eno recording, as the collaborators definitely bring their input to the party. If you've set the volume control for the softer sounds of the first tracks you may have to turn it down a bit by the time you get to track five, Horse, where Leo Abraham's guitar takes a particularly prominent role; you'll keep it turned down for the thrumming percussion and angry feedback of the next track, 2 forms of anger, and some others too. You won't have done that with a Eno ambient recording before.

The recording quality is, as you might expect, top notch. Because of that you'll get the most out of this if you play it on a good hifi, where the use of deep bass notes and tones comes through your feet as well as your ears. This, and the sometimes fractured rhythms and unusual keyboard lines, can make it an edgy listen; you may well feel unsettled rather than chilled after playing this.

And if all of that sounds like it's meant to warn you off; it isn't, it's just to make you aware that if you think this is something to play when you're feeling mellow, or the morning after the night before, think again. Play it and listen to it when you want to be provoked or even (especially tracks 5 - 9) roused, and it will reward your listening hugely. Get to know it and it may reward your listening each time you play it. I like this a lot and, with all the cautions I've mentioned, recommend it to you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have an open mind, 28 Jun 2012
By 
Mr. A. Allison (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
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eno's 2010 album with leo abrahams and jon hopkins - his first on warp - proves that there is yet more life to be sucked out of the mantle 'ambient'. it is effectively in three 'acts' - slow, fast, slow respectively. the first act opens with a lovely and simple piece - 'emerald and lime' - that shows the trio's more melodic and emotional side. wonderful thin pianos open out a broad and sailing tune, drenched in echoey effects, and which makes the heart melt when at 1.35 a melodica line accompanies. we're then drawn into a very gloomy world indeed with 'complex heaven' - pulsing bass, sinister guitar ostinato and ethereal, ghostly pianos all conjure the great sorrow of a world gone wrong, and we, the poor mortals, who must live through it with our fragile humanity. track 3, 'small craft on a milk sea', wonderfully evokes being on a little boat on a dark, lonely sea, the midnight moon glowing beautifully. if all the tracks were as good as these first three, this would be an album to take to the grave. unfortunately, there's rather a lot of waffle to get through first.

'flint march' breaks its way in with a thundering, splintering intro which then stomps on into trimbal drums and something that sounds like ghosts crying in terror. having got used to this effect though, the piece provides little invention or substance. 'horse' is an aural description of the more physical aspect of a horse running - all kinesis, flexing, muscular movement. leo abrahams' guitars here go into stellar overdrive, and the piece's crunchy, relentless forward-drive is perhaps most for those warp-listeners who adore aphex twin. it's incredible just how much noise three men can make. '2 forms of anger' amounts to very little. a slowly grinding bass ground over which occur various a-melodic effects from guitar and electronica, drums rocketing in half-way through. unfortunately, they do little to relieve the tedium. 'bone jump' is only notable for a weirdly jumping bassline, then taken up in the treble on a keyboard and then an organ instrument. little replay value. 'dust shuffle' starts promisingly with a skittering drum and bass ground, but a few minutes later and almost nothing has happened.

'paleosinic' cuts through the mustard and gives us full-on jungle music, eno style. the piece builds about half-way through to a mental climax, guitars howling, electronica bleeping and blooping like a mad thing, and culminating in a unison rhythm amongst all the instruments, finally exploding into the echo of deep-space, and gradually sailing away below earshot.

and then, the 'fast act' of the album being over, we go back to slow, weird stuff. 'slow ice, cold moon' is all cold chill and mist, and bears some resemblance to 'spirits drifting' from eno's 'another green world'. then 'lesser heaven', which melodically seems to have nothing to do with 'complex heaven', but is the sort of thing you could soak into a bath to. 'calcium needles' sounds like the music to an ice-cavern from a zelda game, and perfectly evokes some creepy subterranean cave of icy stalactites. 'emerald and stone' somewhat pointlessly - though not unpleasingly - revives the tune from the opening piece, and gives the album some element of circularity.

'written, forgotten' opens a dirge-like duo of pieces to end the album. this is music for drifting away into some very mirky thought-patterns indeed, and bears some relation to eno's 'apollo' soundtrack. the final piece, 'late anthropocene', is an eight-minute drone over two chords, accompanied by isolated meanderings from the electric guitar, and makes you feel like you're seeping away from humanity altogether. this is ambient, in extremis. if you like music that you could evaporate to, this is for you.

in summary, eno's first album on warp is a fitting placement in its catalogue. most of the album is pretty good with a few duff moments. the best stuff is the slow stuff, at which you can seep away into deep, subconscious thought, and let one's body relax at the rate of lowest blood-pulse or breath. the faster stuff is a mixed bag. 'paleosonic' offers some genuine excitement, but most of the fast stuff is carried by beat alone, and provides little in the way of actual detail ('bone jump' being another exception, though this doesn't actually 'develop' the tune so much as just repeat it twice). if you like eno's previous ambient stuff and are in the mood for some more, you could certainly do a lot worse. if, however, you're approaching this for the name warp, and are expecting some crunchy fast music of considerable input, you'll be disappointed. personally, despite the variable quality of the 'second act', i love it, warts and all, and the sheer quality of the slow stuff more than makes up for the lesser stuff. and if you get it on CD as opposed to download, you get some really good artwork as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen, 11 Feb 2011
Have read some reviews that find this boring!
I do not. If you "really listen" here you will
find what Eno has offered in the past from a huge volume
of work. New recordings come with better sound this is
an extention of "Great work" if you don't get it your probably
not ment to! Do yourself a favour LISTEN in the cans and consider
what has come before !
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who needs a new Aphex Twin record anyway? A Warp fan's review., 16 Nov 2010
By 
Colin McCartney (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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An unusual move for Warp Records this, releasing a record by such a commercially well established musician, but it certainly pays off.

"Small Craft On A Milk Sea" undoubtedly draws artistic parallels with Brian Eno's new label-mate Richard D James. In fact I would urge any Aphex Twin fans yet to sample Mr Eno's work to start right here. I don't mean to say that RDJ has ever copied Eno, or that on this album Eno is copying James in an attempt to get down with the kids - well, the thirty-somethings anyway. What I DO say is that both men are obviously highly talented: Eno arguably more so, given that he is at a later stage in his career, but on the other hand Aphex has never been associated with anything as poor as No Line On The Horizon. This LP is, at once, effortlessly, up there with the best-ever Warp releases: but somehow it's not Boards of Canada and it's not Autechre. It is a more organic and slightly more sedate, less mad Surfing on Sine Waves, Selected Ambient Works Vol.2 and I Care Because You Do. Only not as sprawling - a nice, concise 49 minute run-time is just right. In some places, acidic pulses, sub-bass and off-kilter percussion update the familiar Eno sound. In other places - and my only doubt thus far - guitars that sound a bit too much like The Edge post-Pop.

I could go on and on about this record (and probably have too much already), but the genius of Eno, just as it is with the Aphex Twin, is that you can't always describe the sound, you have to FEEL it.

Early days, but "Small Craft On A Milk Sea" for me is shaping up to be the most significant Warp release since Drukqs.

As for how it compares with the best of Brian Eno's work? Well you'll need to ask somebody who's a bigger fan of him than they are of the Aphex Twin (as you will have guessed, that's not me).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT ELECTRONICS, 23 Jan 2011
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There are some who say that Enos best albums were from the late seventies,this is true to a certain extent,but dissmiss this at your peril,for this is music of high quality.
Never one to short change,Eno has produced a masterfull album of electronic sounds that prove electronic music has a soul.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Small Craft On A Milk Sea of plugins, 19 Sep 2013
Dear Brian,

Been a fan of yours since the year dot ... this really is the most uninteresting amateur sounding (in comparison to your great works) record you have ever released.
Please blow the dust off the eventide sitting in the corner ... that you can sculpt with! ... the sounds your using here have no depth or soul and the compositions only deserve a C- (there is the occasional track that tips it's hat to that previous greatness) to conclude this end of term report ...
Brian must do better and stop doodling with his apple laptop during class.

The right honourable Dr. Thomas Arnold, Rugby
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Eno album, 18 Nov 2010
I agree with others here, this is a good album but only good and the five star reviews are over the top. It's nothing new, starts off with ambient pieces then moves into Nerve Net type stuff then back into ambient. Very much in the Music for Films type of albums.

Very good but nothing new, if you haven't many eno albums then buy, otherwise get Music for Films I, II, III, On Land and Appollo first then some other electronic albums like, Drawn from Life and other artists such as Susumu Yokota, Matthew Florianz, Harold Budd and Future Sound of London.

Then you won't need this. Love Eno but a bit like David Gilmour looks like he may still release good albums but no new ideas, keep hoping he'll prove me wrong but allas not yet.

Still a nice album though hence 3 stars.
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