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Before And After Science
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on April 3, 2000
This is the last 'pop' album out of Eno for quite some time; after this, plus a few lyrical outings with Cluster around the same period, Eno didn't again deal with song-type forms until around the end of the 1980s and his collaboration with John Cale ("Wrong Way Up"). The sequencing of the album was much more coherent on vinyl, where one had the 'energetic side', comprised of the first five cuts, and the 'atmospheric' side, with the latter five. On CD, some of this feel gets lost, I think. As far as the music goes, this should be taken along with Bowie's "Low" and "Heroes", as well as Talking Heads' "More Songs About Buildings and Food" and "Fear of Music", all of which are also greatly indebted to Eno and are definite 'cousins' to this solo album. 'King's Lead Hat', in fact, is an anagram for 'Talking Heads'...Eno was rather fascinated with anagrams during this period. There's a good deal of rock here, not all of which works perfectly, but the 'atmospheric' set is one to buy the album for, especially the tranquil-ominous "Julie With...", the Cluster collaboration (a taste of those two Cluster + Eno albums, I note) "By This River", and the hymnodic "Spider and I". Go with "Another Green World" first, but this is a suitable second stop.
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Punk was breaking, post-punk was already in the plodding throes of birth, the glam era was crawling home zooted and drunk for the last gasp, and Brian Eno was quietly doing his own thing, manifesting one of the best records of all time - "Before and after Science". This was the last record of his great rock 'n' roll period and the first of his understated electro-ambient phase which has persisted to this day. This album was made and released around the same time as David Bowie's "low" and both albums are disturbingly similar. Why? Because Eno produced and even co-wrote some of the songs on "low". There is much which Bowie, in the mid-70's, owed to Eno, yet Bowie went on to his plastic fame while Eno preferred sticking to the simplicity and the music itself. This album, a watershed and a turning point, will rock you out and then drift you gently out to sea, darkly, calmly. The final lines of the final song, "Spider and I": "We sleep in the mornings, we dream of a ship that sails away - a thousand miles away." Swells of synth slowly fade away and usher in the ambience which has become Brian Eno.
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on December 23, 2001
The last album from sonic experimenter, Brian Eno's pop period, 1977's Before and After Science, incorporates elements from each of the previous works from that stage of his career. The album's first side features funky, glam rock oddities, like to those of 1973's Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy and Here Come the Warm Jets, such as the instantly addictive as "Backwater" and the eerie, idiosyncratic "No One Receiving." Side B recalls Eno's 1975 masterpiece, Another Green World, with a ghostly, serene soundscapes of interconnecting songs, the best of which are the mournful "Here He Comes" and the gorgeously icy "By This River." After this album, Eno would expand his experimentation further and further, founding ambient music and appealing only to the a select group of music fans. Before and After Science is a good example of when Eno used his monstrous creativity to put fresh spins on more conventional song structures.
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on May 18, 1999
Back when I bought this album, albums had two sides (whether on vinyl or tape). Because of what I liked musicallyn back then, I initially loved side one (let's call it the "progressive rock side") and was bored by side two (let's call it the "serene side"). Eventually, though, I found the understated, beautiful songs on side 2 as enjoyable as the rhythmic, complex songs on side 1. Looking back, I think the album parallels Eno's career: the first side represents his rock-influenced Bowie/Roxy Music/solo stuff, the second side represents his later shift to ambient music. Both sides are simply incredible. Regardless of your mood or musical preferences, this album can meet your musical needs --- play the first part of this CD when you want to tap your foot, play the second part if you want quiet, thoughtful music. I wish more CDs were as well constructed as Before and After Science.
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on May 18, 1999
Back when I bought this album, albums had two sides (whether on vinyl or tape). Because of what I liked musically back then, I initially loved side one (let's call it the "progressive rock side") and was bored by side two (let's call it the "serene side"). Eventually, though, I found the understated, beautiful songs on side 2 as enjoyable as the rhythmic, complex songs on side 1. Looking back, I think the album parallels Eno's career: the first side represents his rock-influenced Bowie/Roxy Music/solo stuff, the second side represents his later shift to ambient music. Both sides are simply incredible. Regardless of your mood or musical preferences, this album can meet your musical needs --- play the first part of this CD when you want to tap your foot, play the second part if you want quiet, thoughtful music. I wish more CDs were as well constructed as Before and After Science.
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on August 7, 2000
This is about as abstract as rock music ever got. Brian Eno had released another white-knuckle progressive rock album - this probably being his best work - at the same time the sycophantic journalists at NME were beating the drum for punk. (So The Clash exemplified British poverty better than the Pistols and could play circles around their contemporaries? Isn't that kind of like being the tallest midget in the circus?) Well, Brian Eno had just invented a new genre of music (ambient); he had just finished working with David Bowie on 'Heroes' and 'Low', and more recently, moved into remarkably sophisticated krautrock terrain on 'Before and After Science'. Yet boring charlatans like Sid Vicious managed to steal the spotlight.
This is it: the most exiting album ever released. Buy it and watch your false teeth fly across the room in joy.
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on February 7, 2003
There are a handful of Eno records worth listening to and owning. Of the four "rock albums" TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN (BY STRATEGY), BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE, ANOTHER GREEN WORLD, and the first HERE COME THE WARM JETS, the best is Before and After...
The songs "King's Lead Hat" (actually an anagram for Talking Heads", "Julie With..." and "By This River" show Eno as an intrigue and odd performer. Martin L. Gore has selected new songs for the April 2003 release COUNTERFEIT2. Not surprisingly, one of the selections is "By This River", and the song from Depeche Mode called "The Great Outdoors!" has similar bell-like and moody synth sounds.
An Eno essential, enjoy.
Stephen B.
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As is the case with its predecesor, Another Green World, the remastered version is no great deal if you already own this on CD. Nonetheless, this collection of songs is so good that it gets 5 stars anyway. Everything came together for Eno on this disc. The songs, the ambient textures, the guest support. As strong and innovative as Another Green World was, it seemed like a collection of musical blueprints for the most part. Many pieces felt unfinished. Not so here. This is one of the most perfect recordings I have ever heard. The absence of bonus tracks is actually welcome. They would probably get in the way. This work is complete as is - an artist and musical visionary in flow state, making his definitive artistic statement!
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on November 25, 2002
The masterpiece of Eno's "rock" period, "Before and After Science" brings all the elements of earlier albums together: quirky, catchy rock tunes, picturesque lyrics, ambient atmospherics, unique arrangements and timbres. Eno had mastered it all by this stage and having achieved it, left the genre of rock albums for immersion in ambient territory and production work for others.
But like all great music, "Before and After Science" is somehow more than sum of its parts: an aura of melancholy and longing pervades the album (especially what was side 2 of the LP, tracks 6-10 on the CD), transcending the clever production to create a work of lasting beauty and emotional connection.
Beyond essential.
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on May 25, 2000
One thing you won't find on Before and after Science is a lot of notes. But you will find a few notes that will have you filling in the blanks with your imagination. Eno saves the best for last--the Vangelis-like "Spider and I" with its single verse and repeated chorus, and the beautiful and lyrically evocative "Julie With...". The subtractive compositional process that removed all the redundant notes (sometimes including even percussion) leaves music not only free of cliches and boundaries but that forces you to imagine some much grander. Listen by yourself in a darkened room and let your mind wander.
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