The Second Disc

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The Eno Assembly: Four Brian Eno Albums Go Deluxe With Previously Unheard Music

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Eno - Nerve NetIn a career spanning five decades, Brian Eno has refused to be pigeonholed. The ambient music pioneer and electronic explorer has produced albums for David Bowie, U2 and Paul Simon, played in Roxy Music, collaborated with everyone from Belinda Carlisle to David Byrne, composed film and television soundtracks, and maintained a solo career since 1974. His varied body of work as writer, musician, producer and artist has embraced experimentalism and pushed the limits of conventional rock. Now, four of his most overlooked albums first released between 1992 and 1997, have been reissued by All Saints Records in lavish 2-CD editions each containing a full bonus disc of previously unheard material.

1992’s Nerve Net, originally released on Opal/Warner Bros., marked Eno’s return to solo recording for the first time since 1985’s Thursday Afternoon, which consisted of a single, 60-minute track. (Wrong Way Up, with John Cale, came in between the two releases in 1990.) In the original liner notes reprinted in the new reissue, Eno details that “this record draws on jazz, funk, rap, rock, pop, ambient and ‘world music’,” adding, “Did I leave anything out” He described the amalgamation of those styles as yielding a record that’s “none of those things but a weird and self-contradictory mess – and a mess that I love, like paella, everything’s in there somewhere!” Robert Fripp, John Paul Jones and Benmont Tench were among the notable names who joined Eno for this hypnotic, largely instrumental musical adventure. What fans at the time didn’t know that was Nerve Net should have been Eno’s second solo release of the 1990s, not the first. In 1991, he had recorded an album to be entitled My Squelchy Life, but it was, well, squelched. A couple of tracks were reworked for Nerve Net, but this reissue presents the original proposed album in full for the first time. “Fractal Zoom” and “Ali Click” were released in a variety of remixes, but none of those are included on this new set. Arun Chakraverty has remastered Nerve Net, and Kevin Metcalfe at Soundmasters has mastered My Squelchy Life.

Eno - ShutovEno’s follow-up, The Shutov Assembly, was dedicated to his friend, the Russian artist Sergei Shutov. The 1992 Opal/Warner release consisted of ten ambient tracks, all named for audiovisual art installations created by Eno. Shutov, who had found inspiration in Eno’s music, had difficulty obtaining it in Soviet Russia, so Eno put together a “mix tape” of unreleased pieces for his friend to hear. That tape became the basis of The Shutov Assembly. The various pieces were recorded between 1985 and 1990 and named after the sites in which the installations were originally seen (festivals, galleries, etc.). The expanded The Shutov Assembly features a second disc of seven more pieces, all of which date from the same 1985-1990 period as the core album, and the booklet contains excerpts from a discussion between Eno and critic John Rockwell reflecting on music, art, technology, their intersection, and other wide-ranging topics. Tony Cousins at Townhouse has remastered Disc One, while Kevin Metcalfe has handled Disc Two.

After the jump: the scoop on Neroli and The Drop, plus track listings and order links for all four titles!

Eno - NeroliNeroli, from 1993 on All Saints Records, returned to the single-track format of Thursday Afternoon. The purely instrumental “mood music” album took its name from the sensual oil derived from the flowers of the Seville orange, and was conceived with the concept of perfume and fragrance. In his essay entitled “The Future Will Be Like Perfume,” reprinted in the liner notes, Eno explains some of the roots of his musical inspiration. A 1989 interview with John Schaefer in which he discusses perfume is also included. Neroli has been used as music for therapy, and reportedly also in childbirth wards, due to its calming, “chill” atmosphere. It has been joined by another hour-long ambient work, New Space Music, on the second disc of this expanded edition. Neroli has been mastered by Nimbus and Chop ‘Em Out, while mastering for the bonus CD is by Kevin Metcalfe.

Eno - The Drop1995 brought a collaboration between Eno and Jah Wobble of Public Image Ltd., Spinner, as well as Original Soundtracks I, a side project with his friends in U2 under the name of Passengers. In 1997, he released another solo ambient album on All Saints, The Drop. Taking his trademark ambient soundscapes to another level he deemed “drop” music, Eno incorporated more of a beat, more notes and what could be described as more urgency. He described the sound of The Drop as a kind of jazz from an alien perspective, and took cues (described in a BBC World Service interview reprinted in the booklet) from both the long melody lines of fusion’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and the percussive bass of Fela Kuti and African music. (Two other articles round out the package.) Though the three bonus tracks originally included on a Japanese bonus disc have not been retained, this reissue of The Drop adds nine tracks on its bonus CD representing alternate mixes and rare recordings from Eno’s archives. These pieces were previously collected as a limited edition (1,000 units) record to accompany 77 Million – An Audio Visual Installation by Brian Eno at La Foret Museum in Harajuku, Japan. This marks the first wide release of the compilation.

Brian Eno continues to actively create music in both the ambient and rock genres, and everywhere in between; recent collaborations have taken place with Coldplay, James Blake, Owen Pallett and Fela Kuti’s son Seun. These four new reissues, all of which are housed in attractive casebound book-style presentations, capture some of his most striking and underrated work of the 1990s. They’re all available now from All Saints Records, and can be ordered at the links below.

Brian Eno, Nerve Net (Warner Bros./Opal 9-45033-2, 1992 – reissued All Saints WAST031CD, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

CD 1: Nerve Net

  1. Fractal Zoom
  2. Wire Shock
  3. What Actually Happened?
  4. Pierre in Mist
  5. My Squelchy Life
  6. Juju Space Jazz
  7. The Roil, The Choke
  8. Ali Click
  9. Distributed Being
  10. Web
  11. Web (Lascaux Mix)
  12. Decentre

CD 2: My Squelchy Life (all tracks previously unreleased as album)

  1. I Fall Up
  2. The Harness
  3. My Squelchy Life
  4. Tutti Forgetti
  5. Stiff
  6. Some Words
  7. Juju Space Jazz
  8. Under
  9. Everybody’s Mother
  10. Little Apricot
  11. Over

Brian Eno, The Shutov Assembly (Warner Bros./Opal 9-45010-2, 1992 – reissued All Saints WAST032CD, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1

  1. Triennale
  2. Alhondiga
  3. Markgraph
  4. Lanzarote
  5. Francisco
  6. Riverside
  7. Innocenti
  8. Stefelijk
  9. Ikebukuro
  10. Cavallino

CD 2 (all tracks previously unreleased)

  1. Eastern Cities
  2. Empty Platform
  3. Big Slow Arabs
  4. Storm
  5. Rendition
  6. Prague
  7. Alhondiga Variation

Brian Eno, Neroli (All Saints ASCD 15, 1993 – reissued All Saints WAST012CD, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1:

  1. Neroli

CD 2:

  1. New Space Music (previously unreleased)

Brian Eno, The Drop (All Saints ASCD 32, 1997 – reissued All Saints WAST024CD, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1:

  1. Slip, Dip
  2. But If
  3. Belgian Drop
  4. Cornered
  5. Block Drop
  6. Out/Out
  7. Swanky
  8. Coasters
  9. Blissed
  10. M.C. Organ
  11. Boomcubist
  12. Hazard
  13. Rayonism
  14. Dutch Blur
  15. Back Clack
  16. Dear World
  17. Iced World

CD 2 (all tracks previously unreleased commercially):

  1. Never Stomp
  2. System Piano
  3. Bonk 12
  4. Luxor Night Car
  5. Targa Summer
  6. Cold
  7. Little Slicer
  8. Surf Birds
  9. Targa

Written by Joe Marchese

December 10, 2014 at 11:35

Posted in Brian Eno, News, Reissues

2 Responses

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  1. Well, these wouldn’t have been my first choices of Eno albums to give the expanded re-release treatment to, but anything new by him is certainly welcome. Very exciting. One quick clarification: The long out-of-print ENO BOX II-VOCALS featured five songs from MY SQUELCHY LIFE, so technically not “all” of those tracks are previously unreleased, but it’s certainly the first time the entire album is getting any kind of release, which is plenty to be thankful for.

    Eric Levy

    December 10, 2014 at 13:41

    • In addition to some of “My Squelchy Life” having been released on ENO BOX II, the Cool World soundtrack, and a v/a compilation, some of the “new” bonus content on these Shutov and Drop reissues has also seen the light of day before.

      The Drop’s bonus disc was previously issued as “77 Million Paintings” in limited edition, and consists mainly of alternate versions of pieces on “The Drop” under different titles, pieces from Eno’s collaboration with New Composers under different titles, and pieces from the “Nile” CD-ROM soundtrack under different titles. The seasoned Eno follower will also detect that at least two of the 7 bonus cuts on the “Shutov” reissue have previously been released as cuts on “Headcandy” and “Curiosities” under — yes! — different titles.

      To take a more favorable view, all of the above (differently titled) material WAS hard to come by, and probably remains unheard by all but the most diligent Eno devotees, so it IS nice that it’s now available, in excellent sonic condition rather than bootleg recordings, on these reissues. But I just thought I should point out, to the hardcore collectors, that Eno’s up to his old “rename and reissue” trick throughout these new editions.

      Quiet Wyatt

      December 13, 2014 at 12:07

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