"The 'green world' of the title suggests nature, but the word 'another' leads us away from the world we know and out towards space and science fiction, or perhaps the parallel worlds proposed by art or quantum physics. Perhaps Eno is enjoying relinquishing conscious control over the music. Perhaps he feels -- like John Cage when he abandons conscious compositional choice, or God when he abandons the world -- that his absence only makes the creator's presence stronger. "

Momus, Thought of the Day: Another Green World1

Released in November 1975, just one month before his first fully "ambient" record, Discreet Music, Brian Eno's Another Green World reveals the genesis of the musical direction he has explored ever since. By 1975 Eno had already made an indelible mark on pop music through his work with Roxy Music and his albums Here Come the Warm Jets, and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). On Another Green World he begins to turn away from pop, glam, and quirky rock, stripping down to the sonic minimalism that would eventually become ambient.

Only five tracks on Another Green World take the form of traditional "songs" with lyrics, the remaining nine tracks are instrumental experiments that often evoke the images referenced in their titles. "In Dark Trees" and "Sombre Reptiles," especially, could never be misinterpreted. They are perfect sonic paintings. In an essay referencing Eno's record, Momus quotes Paul Klee: "Art does not reproduce the visible, but makes visible." Klee wasn't talking about music, but still. Exactly.

Another Green World's lyrical tracks have the Dada-inspired "sound over sense" quality of Eno's other work. The first opening lyrics of the record, from "Sky Saw," are "All the clouds turn to words / All the words float in sequence / No one knows what they mean / Everyone just ignores them". Eno's lyrics are somewhat ironic, words explaining that words are ignored. From Momus' essay: "When, in 1985, Eno and John Cage were talking about their shared distaste for music that comes too heavily laden with intentions, Eno said 'I have the same feeling about lyrics. I just don't want to hear them most of the time. They always impose something that is so unmysterious compared to the sound of the music, they debase the music for me.'" Another Green World proves that Eno doesn't need lyrics to give his music meaning. Though Eno's lyrics may not be meaningful, their often alliterative quality acts as a vocal instrument. Eno is never a "vocalist," he contributes "voices."

Since more or less abandoning the pop format, Brian Eno has strived to create music that depends as much upon the listener as upon the artist. Ambient music can be ignored or studied, depending on the whim of the listener, with both approaches yielding beauty. His contemporary experiments with SSEYO Koan generative music, which changes every time it is played, seem to be a logical step in his exploration. Abandoning lyrical meaning was, perhaps, one of the first.

The buzzing synth and meandering bass of Sky Saw opens the record, morphing into a maniacal, sizzling whirl. "All the clouds turn to words," drones Eno, as bizzare sub-vocals cloud the background. John Cale leads an atonal viola section to the track's finale.

A fat, thick bass thumping opens Over Fire Island, joined by shivering synths and ominous tape loops.

St. Elmo's Fire opens with an inquisitive mixture of bass, piano, synth, and rattly synthetic percussion. Eno's voice harmonizes beautifully as he draws out the chorus of "blue August moon," accompanying synths and a great solo by the amazing Robert Fripp, inspired by an electrical generator in the Science Museum, in South Kensington, London. "...on 'St. Elmo's Fire' I had this idea and said to Fripp, 'Do you know what a Wimshurst machine is?' It's a device for generating very high voltages which then leap between the two poles, and it has a certain erratic contour, and I said, 'You have to imagine a guitar line that has that, very fast and unpredictable.' And he played that part which to me was very Wimshurst indeed." (— Brian Eno, interviewed by Lester Bangs for Musician in 1979)

In Dark Trees is an eerie nightmare, with tribal electric percussion echoing off of every surface. Shadows obscure sight, but you sense that you are being followed as you furtively navigate the dark forest, pursued by the moon and by otherworldly shrieking.

The Big Ship is played by an organ on the moon. Its hopeful, swelling sound actually reminds me of some passages from Godspeed you black emperor! or Sigur Ros.

I'll Come Running is a beautiful, conventional love ballad. It opens with piano and Eno's plaintive but contented vocals. The song features Eno's most coherent lyrics, telling of waiting for a lover to return. The repeated chorus is "I'll come running to tie your shoe", and the song is dedicated "to Ritva Saarikko's shoes," says a fan site. Rita was Eno's girlfriend at the time.

The title track, Another Green World, is a short interlude that is both otherworldly and familliar.

Sombre Reptiles is prehistoric techno created with "unnatural sounds" that suggest nothing so much as cold-blooded, brooding beasts. Eno's "Desert Guitars" mesmerize the ear, making the song's two minute running time seem all too short.

"Sombre Reptiles" segues into Little Fishes, an aquatic sonic haiku. Brian Eno uses a Farfisa organ (in the days before their sound had become utterly cliche and cheesy) to create vibratory, rippling sounds.

Golden Hours opens with a bubbling, gurgly organ and Eno's hypnotic voice enters. A wonderful, diffracting solo by Robert Fripp and a viola replication by John Cale make this song, with it's vocal harmonies and evocative melodies, one of the best on the album.

Becalmed whispers with the static sound of wind and a subdued piano solo joined by an orchestra of wavering synths.

Zawinul/Lava is another quiet instrumental piece. Boasting an array of talented musicians, it is nonetheless very minimalist. The cries of impossible birds echo across gleaming obsidian landscapes.

The album's final song with vocals, Everything Merges with the Night begins with a softly strummed guitar, which sounds strangely and pleasantly out of place on this album. The lyrics evoke a thoughtful, silent communal with nature, watching the sun set and darkness descend over the silent world, lulling it to sleep.

Spirits Drifting is the soundtrack of the afterlife, the sound the river Styx makes as it meanders through the darkness. And silence is sleep.

Liner Notes and Credits:

1    Sky Saw     3.25
Phil Collins, drums
Percy Jones, fretless bass
Paul Rudolph, anchor bass
Rod Melvin, Rhodes piano
John Cale, viola section
Brian Eno, snake guitar, digital guitar, vocals

2    Over Fire Island     1.49
Phil Collins, drums
Percy Jones, fretless bass
Brian Eno, synthesizer, guitars, tape

3    St. Elmo's Fire     2.56
Robert Fripp, Wimshurst guitar
Brian Eno, organ, piano, Yamaha bass pedals, synthetic percussion, desert guitars, vocals

4    In Dark Trees     2.29
Brian Eno, guitars, synthesizer, electric percussion and treated rhythm generator

5    The Big Ship     3.01
Brian Eno, synthesizer, synthetic percussion and treated rhythm generator

6    I'll Come Running     3.48
Robert Fripp, restrained lead guitar
Paul Rudolph, bass, snare drums, bass guitar, assistant castanet guitars
Rod Melvin, lead piano
Brian Eno, castanet guitars, chord piano, synthesizer, synthetic percussion, vocals

7    Another Green World     1.28
Brian Eno, desert guitars, Farfisa organ, piano

8    Sombre Reptiles     2.26
Brian Eno, Hammond organ, guitars, synthetic and Peruvian percussion, electric elements and unnatural sounds

9    Little Fishes     1.30
Brian Eno, prepared piano, Farfisa organ

10    Golden Hours     4.01
Robert Fripp, Wimborne guitar
John Cale, viola
Brian Eno, choppy organs, spasmodic percussion, club guitars, uncertain piano, vocals

11    Becalmed     3.56
Brian Eno, Leslie piano, synthesizer

12    Zawinul/Lava     3.00
Phil Collins, percussion
Percy Jones, fretless bass
Paul Rudolph, guitar
Rod Melvin, Rhodes piano
Brian Eno, grand piano, synthesizer, organ and tape

13    Everything Merges with the Night     3.59
Brian Turrington, bass guitar, pianos
Brian Eno, guitars, vocals

14    Spirits Drifting     2.36
Brian Eno, bass guitar, organ, synthesizer

All compositions by Brian Eno.

For their (sometimes inadvertent) advice and encouragement, I would like to thank Fred Frith, Bill Kelsey, Ian MacDonald, Phil Manzanera, Carol McNicoll, Ritva Saarikko, Peter Schmidt, Pete Townshend, Robert Wyatt.

Oblique Strategies by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

Recorded at Island Studios during July and August 1975. Engineered by Rhett Davies. Assistant Engineers: Guy Bidmead, Barr Sage, Robert Ash.

Enoweb: http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/AGWlyrics.html
Momus "Thought For The Day - Another Green World": http://www.demon.co.uk/momus/thought220102.html
All Music Guide: http://www.allmusic.com

1 - Momus is actually an amazing essayist. Check out some of the other stuff he has written: http://www.demon.co.uk/momus/thoughtsindex.html

sighmoan says Somewhere in this mess, I have a bootleg of the demos Eno did with the pub band, The Winkies, back around '73. It has an earlier, rockier version of "I'll Come Running" — the line that really stuck out was "I want to be your smallest room", genteel talk for "toilet". Plainly, Eno had something fairly kinky in mind when he wrote that song.

Me: And in fact Eno has said that Golden Hours is an oblique (clever me) reference to *ahem* golden showers. Kinky indeed.

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