This Brian Eno article was written by Ben Kendall, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
Ambient music pioneer Brian Eno has announced a new album entitled ‘The Ship’, which is due for release this year on the 29th April via Warp Records. The album will be Eno’s first work since 2012’s ‘Lux’, and will be accompanied by a series of installations where listeners will be able to hear an “alternative telling of ‘The Ship’ in multi-channel three-dimensional sound installations,” according to a press release.
The album was “conceived from experiments with three-dimensional recording techniques, and formed in two, interconnected parts.” These two parts namely being the two-song track list of the album. The first being the title track ‘The Ship’, and the second entitled ‘Fickle Sun’, which is split into three parts: (i) Fickle Sun (ii) The Hour is Thin (iii) I’m Set Free. The final part being a cover of The Velvet Underground’s original, which Eno has described as “even more relevant now than it did then.”
In a statement about the album, Eno wrote: “Humankind seems to teeter between hubris and paranoia: the hubris of our ever-growing power contrasts with the paranoia that we’re permanently and increasingly under threat. At the zenith we realise we have to come down again… we know that we have more than we deserve or can defend, so we become nervous. Somebody, something is going to take it all from us: that is the dread of the wealthy. Paranoia leads to defensiveness, and we all end up in the trenches facing each other across the mud.
“On a musical level, I wanted to make a record of songs that didn’t rely on the normal underpinnings of rhythmic structure and chord progressions but which allowed voices to exist in their own space and time, like events in a landscape. I wanted to place sonic events in a free, open space.
“One of the starting points was my fascination with the First World War, that extraordinary trans-cultural madness that arose out of a clash of hubris between empires. It followed immediately after the sinking of the Titanic, which to me is its analogue. The Titanic was the Unsinkable Ship, the apex of human technical power, set to be Man’s greatest triumph over nature. The First World War was the war of materiel, “over by Christmas,” set to be the triumph of Will and Steel over humanity. The catastrophic failure of each set the stage for a century of dramatic experiments with the relationships between humans and the worlds they make for themselves.
“I was thinking of those vast dun Belgian fields where the First World War was agonisingly ground out; and the vast deep ocean where the Titanic sank; and how little difference all that human hope and disappointment made to it. They persist and we pass in a cloud of chatter.”