Brian Eno, the father of ambient music has never shied away from collaborations, in fact you could say some of his best work has been in part due to his join efforts with other musicians. Finding Shore is Eno’s first collaboration since working with Karl Hyde of electronic act Underworld back in 2014. The outcome sounded completely different to the usual ambient vibe of Eno’s past work, it was more pop with an afro-beat vibe.
But, ‘Finding Shore’ sees the veteran producer go back to his roots.
In his latest release he has joined forces with pianist Tom Rogerson (formally of rock band Three Trapped Tigers) to create something that is unique but still completely ambient. ‘Finding Shore’ is a merging of electronic ambient, classical jazz and beautiful piano melodies, that seamlessly fit together.
In fact Eno takes a backseat in this project and it’s Rogerson takes up the post of main composer throughout the album. You get the feeling that Eno is moulding, even sculpting Rogerson’s beautiful piano melodies into songs. The album was written with Eno using a Moog piano bar to manipulate the signal coming from Rogerson’s acoustic piano, which is what creates some the beautiful and left-field sounds throughout the album.
Album opener ‘Idea Of Order at Kyson point’ is a perfect example of how this partnership works. Eno’s reverby chimes set the stage for Rogerson’s beautiful piano melodies which sound grand and warm. The sounds don’t try to compete with each other they merely compliment each other perfectly.
This is followed on by the more electronic and arpeggiated ‘Motion in field’ which sounds pressing and on-edge and ends with optimism and delight. Almost like there is a tug of war going on between both musicians where no one can win. There is a lot of different emotions packed into this album too which cover the broad spectrum from happy and delightful, to all out dread and anxiousness.
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Of course this isn’t just an album of big synth and piano sounds, there are some moments of brilliant subtlety that take you on a journey both dark and light. Tracks like ‘An Iken Loop’ which sounds like the end of the road for whatever journey Eno and Rogerson are on, it’s 3 minutes 4 seconds of beautiful chord progressions and subtle soundscapes. The same can be said for ‘On-ness’ which doesn’t actually feature Eno at all, and it’s a wonderful acoustic piano pieces from Rogerson. With songs like this, you get the feeling that they both loved every minute of this whole project.
As the album goes on it seems to get more and more experimental. Track ‘March Chorus’ is a perfect example of this, 6 minutes of artificial birdsong, low drones, and cheerful chime pads rising and falling. It might be the longest track on the release, but it is the most accomplished. ‘Claim Home’ on the other hand sounds like the soundtrack to landing on a hostile alien world, with a indescribable sense of uneasiness and dread on one hand and optimism on the other. You get that feeling of Eno’s earlier works, and it’s a delight to hear.
And that is the main theme of this album, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. There isn’t a story that is immediately obvious throughout, rather, each song is an experience in itself, and that’s a hard thing to do in ambient music. Naturally, ‘Finding Shore’ won’t be for everybody, at times it can be difficult to really understand what each song is trying to say, and admittedly it may loose people in the middle as the most accessible songs are at the start and end of the album. That being said overall, it’s a brilliantly transient piece that doesn’t linger and is always bringing a new surprise with each track.
‘Finding Shore is out now via Dead Oceans’. The albums full track listing is as follows…
01 Idea of Order at Kyson Point
02 Motion in Field
04 March Away
05 Eastern Stack
06 Minor Rift
07 The Gabbard
08 Red Slip
09 Quoit Blue
10 Marsh Chorus
11 An Iken Loop
12 Chain Home