Musical alchemy to save the world

In ForeverAndEverNoMorehis first album since 2017, Brian Eno delivers a passionate electronic prayer on climate change.

Introducer of experimental techniques in pop, of concepts of visual art and cybernetics; founding member of Roxy Music and a leading name in the world of installation art. There is too much written about brian eno“the pioneer of processes”, and really little about his peculiar singing, that neutral and distant intonation, full of harmonics, indebted to diphonic singing and his early exposure to Gregorian chant.

Eno gave him parodic turns in his solo debut Here Comes The Warm Jets and lowered it to the robotic dryness of Taking Tiger Mountainput an otherworldly spin on dioramas of vocals and instrumentals from Another Green World, Before And After Science and the closest Another Day On Earth. But later, beyond collaborations and shared records, he did not have an album exclusively of songs again. Until now.

Released in mid-October, ForeverAndEverNoMore (“Never again forever”) is the confluence of Eno’s art with an accelerated humanism that began, encouraged by his U2 colleagues, during the Bosnian War and derived, over the years, into an amateur activism: from the call to boycott Israel for the bombing of Gaza to supporting Labor Jeremy Corbyn, or participating in campaigns for human rights and against global warming. The latter, climate change, is currently his greatest obsession and the subtext of this new work of ambient electronica (not a “concept record”, in the manner of the progressive seventies, but a “record with a message”, as in the revolutionary sixties and the inclusive 2020).

It could be said that, with a pessimistic vision of the future, Eno shows emotion in her voice for the first time. His vocal tone, between melancholic and gloomy, is occasionally treated and balanced by the voices of his daughter Darla and his niece Cecily Eno, further modified by digital effects. Eno is a pioneer of sound treatments, but these tactics are reminiscent of Age Of, by Oneohtrix Point Never, and Proto, by Holly Herndon, two conceptual albums about artificial intelligences taking control and collecting human habits and customs. Under this light, the textures of ForeverAndEverNoMore They seem to inhabit a fictitious place, in the way of epics where AI even replicate our destiny.

But Eno is serious about the message, which cuts deep in the best instances of the album. “There Were Bells,” a song he performed last year at the Acropolis with his brother Brian on accordion and guitarist Leo Abrahams, describes the passage from sing from birds and bells to war sirens in the course of a day, and both her voice and the music gradually take on an ominous turn. The enveloping “Garden Of Stars” reflects on human insignificance in the cosmos, concluding that our end should not surprise us. “How could we emerge from so much fire and rock?” she wonders, while a space ballet of asteroids and shooting stars plays.

In ForeverAndEverNoMore underlie long sustained notes that resonate centuries of mystical tradition. Eno’s voice is majestic like the sounds she designed; His sentences are slow, meditative, and with the severity of his new beard it’s not hard to imagine him as a galactic monk. In that sense, his music never sounded so close to Dead Can Dance, that duo of medievalists inspired by his own ambient music. The circle closes, as if Eno had finally found the key to insert his voice into the genre he forged.

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Musical alchemy to save the world