New Music

BRIAN ENO & J. PETER SCHWALM
DRAWN FROM LIFE
ASTRALWERKS

Brian Eno's production successes—among them, masterpieces for David Bowie and U2—have made him wealthy enough to spend his downtime composing austere, radio-unfriendly ambient music too jarring and fascinating to serve as sonic wallpaper. Hence the story of his latest attention-grabbing effort, co-written with German DJ/producer J. Peter Schwalm. Drawn From Life crawls under your skin—at least my skin—because it flexes the old Eno prog-rock tricks, packed with foreboding, artsy enigmas and odd aural perfumes unavailable anywhere outside Eno's eclectic catalog. But the biggest surprise may be that this disc is also strangely accessible. The foreboding Dadaist monologue of "Intenser" sounds like Hannibal Lecter plotting poetic vengeance on a lame art-history professor. "Like Pictures Part #2" features Laurie Anderson crafting a puzzle with words that sound drafted from the best performance-art piece she never wrote. The sci-fi instrumental "More Dust" conjures up a dead crystal world that's impossibly majestic, something sculpted from a J.G. Ballard dreamscape. Drawn From Life charts a middle path between Eno's spooky, dub-damaged 1995 Spinner album and his noisy-but-pop-savvy 1992 album Nerve Net, which is a cool thing: the man may be older and richer, but he still knows how to keep us interested. (Andrew Asch)

 
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