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Brian Eno: Small Craft On A Milk Sea

Avant-pop egghead mixes ambience with rock muscle.

Back in May, as Brighton Festival curator, Brian Eno played his first British live shows since 1974 with an improvisational collective featuring guitarist Leo Abrahams and keyboard player Jon Hopkins. Their performances were playful, occasionally sublime, and surprisingly raucous in places.

The trio are reunited here on Eno’s first solo album in five years, his debut release on the innovative electronic label Warp. For fans of the shiny-domed pop professor’s seminal early solo career, as opposed to his left-field studio work for superstar bands like U2 and Coldplay, these amorphous sound paintings and disembodied film scores will not sound groundbreaking.

But they are lush and layered and full of drama, as Eno and friends blend digital drones with tribal percussion and shuddering waves of fuzz guitar. There are even some headbanging numbers, notably Horse and 2 Forms of Anger, in which electro-jazz noodling gives way to stomping noise-rock.

Are you ready for ambient heavy metal?