Wednesday, March 10, 2004

#48) Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets (released in 1973, I got this CD for Christmas sometime in high school)

Fuck Ziggy, this is the real alien rock’n’roll. Taking traditional song forms and imbuing them with abstract, beguiling “treatments” that still sound inexplicable after thirty years, Eno genuinely sounds like an otherworldly creature using our language for some illicit and indecipherable purpose. I still have a hard time believing that the androgynous deviant whose lewd sneer stands proudly over the musical Gomorrah of “Baby’s On Fire” and “Blank Frank” is the same guy whose spent the last twenty years making hours of new age furniture music and clocking studio hours with Bono & the boys (and since I can’t even get through side two of Low, I really haven’t bothered to scour through 98% of Eno’s instrumental work. I’d happily listen to a CD-R comp of it, though).

Where David Bowie’s concurrent work is a blatant quest for lionization and Bryan Ferry just wanted some sanctified pussy, Eno’s goals seem almost scientific in nature, as if he’s testing our reactions to stimuli. The words don’t add up to much, but lines like “if you were my flotsam/ I’d be half the man I used to/ they said you were hot stuff/ and that’s what baby’s been reduced to” toy with the listener in pleasurable ways. His sadistic thrill in the endless horror of “Driving Backwards” is just as infectious as the nonsensical enthusiasm of “Needle In The Camel’s Eye.” It’s difficult to describe the specific sounds heard on Here Come The Warm Jets, and I’m not sure the effort would be particularly worthwhile anyhow – I’d rather entice you with the outcome than explain how it’s achieved. Anyone intrigued by that alien otherness implied in the film Velvet Goldmine, which uses tracks from this in two key scenes, will find more of it here than anywhere else.

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