Album Review: Brian Eno – Panic of Looking EP

Brian Eno, whose reputation certainly precedes him, has decided – alongside his other current work – to continue with the project that began with this past summer’s Drums Between the Bells for new EP Panic of Looking, a disc that also uses the words of Rick Holland and features the voices of Darla Eno, Patrick Sim, Anastasia Afonina, and Bronagh Gallagher, as well as Eno and Holland themselves.

The results are very impressive. Throughout the six brief tracks, Holland’s words are perfect for the kinds of shimmering, almost acoustic-sounding worlds that Eno develops. Eno has consistently tried to point out that electronics are key to almost all modern music. He said just as much in his Foreword to the OHM Early Gurus of Electronic Music collection, but put it best recently in a talk at London’s Science Museum: “I have started…saying that technology in music is a little bit like numbers to mathematics. You can’t really imagine music without technology.”

Panic of Looking sticks to that aesthetic. “In the future” is a delightful exercise in tweaked vocal lines, slightly manipulated sounds. Holland’s words are at their very best there. “In the future, in that far façade,” Eno and his daughter Darla sing, adding that “parades give way, beyond stack and grey to the solace of grass, the solace of grass.” Its warm sustained keyboards are matched in their poignancy and their emotiveness only by the instrumental solo piano piece “watch a single swallow in a thermal sky, and try to fit its motion, or figure why it flies”, where long, softly depressed ringing notes extend across the horizon and drop off the edge of a cliff.

Both tracks, as well as the rest of the EP (see the more overtly electronic “if these footsteps”, which centers on a loop of short, soft distortion like a lead being plugged into an amp), engage with that idea that electronics and music are running through the same blood stream. This music is mysterious and spectral. It’s quite unshakeable.

Essential Tracks: “watch a single swallow in a thermal sky, and try to fit its motion, or figure why it flies”, “in the future”


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