Tuesday Tunes: Before and After Science by Brian Eno

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Those who have been paying attention on Tuesdays might have noticed that I’m quite a fan of Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Well, this is where it all started. Specifically, it started when Mark Radcliffe played Backwater on his Radio One show Out On Blue Six, which was responsible for broadening my music taste considerably back in the early 90s.

Backwater is an unnecessarily jaunty little number in which we accompany Eno and the Porter’s daughters sailing at the edges of time; the combination of bouncy tune, weird lyrics and use of the word ‘sausage’ had me hooked immediately, and I hunted out a cassette (remember those?) of the album as soon as I could.

What I found was very much an album of two halves.
The first three tracks – No-one Receiving, Backwater, and Kurt’s Rejoinder – are similarly upbeat tracks, if not all as jolly as Backwater, with similarly off the wall lyrics. Kurt’s Rejoinder, incidentally, is named for Kurt Schwitters, whose influence led to Eno making the lyrics a secondary feature of the songs, which is probably why they make so little sense outside the context of the music.

There’s a brief respite for Energy Fools the Magician, a spooky instrumental piece which wouldn’t be too out of place on one of Eno’s ambient works, and then the new wave pop stylings of King’s Lead Hat (an anagram of Talking Heads, who could quite easily have made this song their own).

111278-cSide Two kicks of with Here He Comes, a slightly more mellow song with a slight time-travel twang to slow us down ready for the second, arguably better, half of the album.
Julie With… and the closing track, Spider and I, are particularly mellow, with ambiguous lyrics woven into eerily beautiful ambient soundscapes…

And about those lyrics… No-one Receiving sounds almost like sf poetry, and most of the songs make reference to existing outside of time as we know it… There are perhaps too many lyrics on this album for it to be ideal writing music, but at some point I think it might be quite fun to write some (or fewer) stories taking the lead from Eno’s lyrics…

Stand-out tracks: Julie With… is a weirdly haunting mix of strange lyrics and ambient electronica; while at the other end of the spectrum, Backwater will always be a favourite, and a defining moment in my appreciation of music.

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