Splitting Ions In The Ether
Observations On "Another Green World" by Brian Eno
This is a randomish review of “Another Green World” by Brian Eno, a fairly wonderful album that I play regularly. It was released on Island Records in November 1975. Produced by Eno and Rhett Davies, it features contributions from a small core of musicians, including Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, Percy Jones, and Rod Melvin. John Cale plays viola on two tracks.
The album’s only chart success was in New Zealand, where it reached number 24, even though an international body of critics praised Another Green World upon its release.
Contemporary reception has been likewise positive; several publications, including Rolling Stone, NME and Pitchfork, have named the album among the greatest of the 1970s.
I was reading "On Some Faraway Beach" and reached Brian Eno's third solo album, although for some reason I thought it was going to be "Before and After Science" but it actually is "Another Green World", one of the two Brian Eno albums I own on vinyl, although he is generally more digital artist, defining this as vertical music rather than the more standard horizontal format (beginning, next, next end).
Its format is generally Instrumental / Vocal / Instrumental though it does not completely stick to that.
It opens with “Sky Saw” which is an instrumental driven by an electronic sound that seems to tear the atmosphere apart. I think when I heard this I immediately had to have the album in my possession and I have it on vinyl and CD as well as a digital format.
This is followed by “Over Fire Island” a minimalist atmospheric instrumental and the album has a lot of these, sort of preparing you for the next song.
Song three is "St Elmo's Fire" (not the John Parr AOR one which is not too bad) and I have always loved this, especially for its lyrics such as
"..and we saw St Elmo's Fire
Splitting Ions In The Ether"
It has a stunning incendiary guitar solo from Bob Fripp which follows that line, which many people regard as his finest recorded guitar solo. It does take some beating, have a listen you should surely be impressed.
St. Elmo's Fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a rod-like object such as a mast, spire, chimney, or animal horn in an atmospheric electric field. The intensity of the effect, a blue or violet glow around the object, often accompanied by a hissing or buzzing sound, is proportional to the strength of the electric field and therefore noticeable primarily during thunderstorms or volcanic eruptions.
St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formia (also known as St. Elmo), the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon, which can warn of an imminent lightning strike, was regarded by sailors with awe and sometimes considered to be a good omen.
This is fairly all over the place post but is an excuse to share this wonderful song with you soundtracking a Felix The Cat cartoon.
Two more instrumentals follow “In Dark Trees” and “The Big Ship” before the gently beautiful “I’ll Come Running” which then leads into the beautiful but short and gentle title track to close the first side of the album.
The second side of the album reflects the first side with two more vocal songs “Golden Hours” and another slow beauty “Everything Merges With The Night”
Eno used Oblique Strategies to produce this album and it turned out to be a major critical success but not a commercial one at the time.
If you are tempted by the songs I have shared here, the whole album is worth your investment.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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This was so fascinating!
I absolutely love learning new things, and ss a musical type, I'm always excited about discovering music I haven't heard, but totally love. Thank you for sharing this!!