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Drums Between the Bells

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 5 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B004Y4ZL7K
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,964 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

"Pairing prickly electronics with live drum patterns Eno dumps great globs of blotchy machine-malfunction into the mix. Holland's poetry is interlaced courtesy of [a] monotone voice...the combined effect makes the whole undertaking sound like a wild William Gibson fantasy come to life" -Pitchfork. Brian Eno first came across the work of Rick Holland in the late 90's during the Map-Making project; a series of collaborative works between students of the Royal College, the Guildhall School of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the National Youth Orchestra and the English National Ballet, among others. In 2003, Brian and Rick made their first music together. The resulting work does not appear on this album. In the time since that initial session they have met infrequently to work on new compositions. In early 2011, following the release of Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Brian's debut album for Warp Records), the pair resolved to finish the project. Drums Between the Bells is the result.

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Format: Audio CD
Last year Brian Eno's appearance on the Warp Label heralded a new period in his work and a fresh approach to the kinds of appearances of those efforts. "Small Craft on a Milk Sea" was an unsettling, transporting and entirely unique blend of several different styles that Eno has developed over his long career. And as great a release it was, nothing prepares one for the utter genius of "Drums Between The Bells". Building on a long tradition of avant garde seers who pioneered the use of the spoken word over top of music, Eno has collaborated with poet Rick Holland to produce a body of work that utilizes the inspiration of what's already been done in the field and quantum lept it forward into exciting new territory. But what else would you expect from Mr. Eno?

Eno acknowledges in his, always welcome and usually self effacing notes, composer Arnold Schoenberg, dadaist Kurt Schwitters, jazzists Christopher Logue and Tony Kinsey, even popsters The Shangrilas and Mike Berry all as having fomented in him a life-long interest in achieving a form of art that successfully weds music and the poetic word. Many of his pieces throughout his career were motions towards this end. With "Drums Between The Bells" he has finally done this in such a way as to contextualize his own musical sensibilities with a particular poetic practice. It is in Rick Holland that he found the right match. It IS interesting to note that there is no mention of Allen Ginsberg's achievement with his "Poetry in Motion" work, nor that of any of The Beats, who most assuredly, at least, were inspired in their rhythm and syntax by the free-flows of be-bop and jazz. So-called 'serious' composers, as well, have more than given a shot at this kind of work.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
having been a fan of brian eno's work for several decades, i was looking forward to this latest release.
i was not disappointed; in fact i was so pleased that i immediately bought the "out-take" single "panic of looking".
both cds are listed here at amazon with extensive product descriptions, so i shall refrain from treading where the professionals have done a superb job of describing the cds.
for me, eno is a master of combining mood, ambiance, energy, sinister, other-worldliness.
his choice of exactly the right voices for the pieces is truly the mark of a genius.
this duo (and i strongly recommend that you buy both cds) is a must-have for eno fans and an addictive introduction if none of brian eno's works call your cd collection home
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Format: Audio CD
Monotonic spoken word is distracting. A little here and there would be fine, but it's every track. Not my cup of tea.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa704c4f8) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa700d090) out of 5 stars 2-CD Deluxe Edition Review July 8 2011
By Charles Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Since the previous reviewer did such an excellent job of explaining the single CD version, these comments are confined to the 2-CD deluxe edition. If you can afford it, this is definitely the version to get.

The bonus CD contains the instrumental version of the album, sans the poetry. While the music remains the same, the titles of the tracks are different. This makes sense, as without the words it is a different album. It truly adds to the understanding of the cutting-edge content of the first disc. Additionally, the instrumental disc reveals a sound which harkens back to Eno's early works. While this sound is present on the first disc, it is not as obvious there. There have been other instrumental versions of vocal albums before, but never has the difference been as dramatic as it is here. These discs serve to dramatically demonstrate just how excellent the components are to the whole.

Furthermore, it is accompanied with an excellent, hard-slip-cased, hard-cover book. This is profusely illustrated with Eno art as well as containing all of the lyrics. Truly, it is a substantial product and worth extra money. While the first CD, even without the bonus material is 5-stars on its own, there is much to listen to on this 2-CD set (in a way, the 6-star version) and it is highly recommended over the single CD version.

One complaint: as is always the case with new Eno releases, there is a single CD Japanese edition featuring a bonus track, which, for the extra money for the deluxe edition, should have been included here as well. This Japanese-only track ("In The Future") is not located at the end of the album like an outtake, but is inserted within the rest of the material making it relevant to the whole. It is an excellent track, sung by Brian and Darla Eno, and can't help but wonder why this was excluded from the western editions. The 2 CD deluxe edition in Japan is the same as it is in the west, making this single CD Japanese edition unique.

On November 8, 2011, an EP will be released entitled Panic Of Looking, featuring 6 tracks from the Eno/Holland sessions. The first track will be the up until now, Japanese-only "In The Future" ...full track listing is as follows:
1. in the future
2. not a story
3. panic of looking
4. if these steps
5. watch a single swallow in a thermal sky, or figure why it flies
6. west bay
39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa700d0e4) out of 5 stars From The Bush Of Ghosts To A Theatre Of Voices July 5 2011
By song_x - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
To make a long story short: "Drums Between The Bells" has the same emotional impact on me as Eno's classics from the 70s. Here comes the long story:


From early on, Brian Eno has been quite sceptical about words, their meanings, their ability to distract our attention from sound. So, although having written outstanding, at times surreal lyrics for his brilliant four song albums in the seventies ("Here Come The Warm Jets", "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)", "Another Green World" (this perfect mélange of songs and purely atmospheric pieces) and "Before and After Science"), he had never added the lyrics.

Now, on this album, the poems are printed. An interesting problem for the master of Ambient Music: poems consist of a highly condensed language, everything within a poem requires careful attention, every syllable, every space between lines, every picture, every breath words take. Eno's trick: everything becomes sound; the listener decides for himself where to move, foreground, background, wordwise, soundwise. The music offers a broad spectrum: funky passages, trash jazz, exotica a la Eno, post-Kraut-electronics and drifting-spheres, soulful chamber music. Inspired stuff.

In an interview, Rick Holland told me: "Each track was approached as a unique organism, and there were nearly fifty pieces when we first sat down to finish the record. I do offer musical ideas and also extremely vague and over-reaching requests, Can you make this part sound more like primordial sludge Brian?', that kind of thing. Of course his answers tend to be, `Yes, yes I can.'."


And, yep, he can! Poems and music - a special affair! "Drums Between The Bells" will speak to people who look for vital music they have never heard before, and to those who are curious about a still quite living thing called modern poetry. Remembering the Eno-Byrne masterpiece "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" (1980) with the cut-and- sample approach to speaking and singing voices (mad priests, talking heads, singers from the Lebanon etc), the new record leaves "the bush of ghosts" and opens up "a theatre of voices".

Nine voices (most of them women) give life to words, sometimes these voices (including the ones of Brian and Rick) are pure realism, sometimes they are morphed and treated. It's never a gimmick, it always serves the words, their meaning space. Brian calls these tracks "speech songs". Using the language of people who come from other parts of the world, enriches the English words with a surprising, non-professional freshness!

In the brilliant slow motion piece, "the real", a female voice is speaking about our ability to see or see not "the real in things", full of repetitions and small changes. A sophisticated way of mixing hypnotic induction with perception theory: solid earth suddenly feels like murky water. The last lines one can (depending on your state of mind) clearly indentify tell us: "while real runs out and seems to see the real as it runs" - then the voice turns from a soft speaker to a strange species. Seductive. A Buddhist piece for the Western world?

"I am not Buddhist, or a Hindu,", says Rick Holland, "nor have I studied either way exhaustively, but I do see the frontiers of science shifting all the time and making fools of experts, and the fact that people have also long agreed on one simple truth, `the unexamined life is not worth living'. At the ends of our formalized intelligence lives imagination. Ultimately, we are all looking for the same thing and anyone who tells you `no, you are wrong, life is rigidly this way, full stop' is almost certainly selling you something.


What do you think, Brian Eno loves about Rick Holland's poems? I read his little book "Story the Flowers" and found an interesting mix of careful attention to everyday life, philosophy, humour and science. Small towns, big towns, coastal areas are portrayed in a deeply sensual way (I'm happy to leave out the word "spiritual" here). There is always an enigma that won't be solved too soon. Something that hangs in the air. "I thought this was the kind of poetry I wanted to work with. The poems were short and sharp", Eno writes in the foreword of the special edition, "their images were strong and the language memorable enough to reward repeated listening." Meanwhile the music drives, waits, suggests, breathes, swirls, stops, penetrates. And it does a lot more.

"I think we both took some steps away from our comfort zones over these sessions, which is what collaborating relies on, and there was certainly never a sense that he `did' music and I `did' words. Poems and Music were equally likely to change in the process of making, and the making process was an open forum of ideas."

Sometimes the words approach the singing area, but it takes a while till we discover an oldfashioned thing called song: near the end, Eno starts singing, and, you know, so many people - nevertheless how much they love his ambient works - have just waited too long for new songs of Mr. Eno ("Wrong Way Up", 1990, "Just Another Day On Earth", 2005). How many of us died on the way? Now one can take a deep breath, when listening to the brilliance of "cloud 4" - but, what's that: a song that could last forever stops after one minute and fourtythree seconds?! We call this English humour. And remember that old saying: brevity is the essence of wit. But, well, I have to confess: the form of the song is perfect, there's a opening part, a middle section and an uplifting ending: "the madnesses of mood / weatherfronts we know / hem us in / or free us like children /just one day apart /a lifetime in the sky / sun, scan the sky like flight / search for any sign /(things) will be alright."


And then? Then comes nothing (of course a very Cagean and well placed nothing, 56 seconds of silence) - and after that, a quiet revelation, another fantastic song: Eno delivers "Breath of Crows" with a deepness in his voice you have rarely ever heard. Robert Wyatt will send kisses! Eno sings with a a slowness and intensity that is not so far away from the last Scott Walker albums.

"my god is in the breath of crows / it grows and shrinks with nature's wish / a fire with no link to the wish of man / but it must be absolute, this god, /for when the mind is still it moves. / my god is in the breath of crows / (...) / the sounds of holy night abound / kestrel calls and bells / drink the air /and the race for meaning quells /(let it in) /or the calls will sound like hollow tin /or gramophone circles /and background dust /i must replaced by must / by scent and sense /wonder this."

Rick Holland about this piece of magic: "We were in a new part of his studio, he had moved all of his equipment into what had previously been an office, with large glass skylight windows. The rain was hammering down in heavy drops, the daylight had disappeared behind the clouds, and he had this dark and thrilling sound on the go. In short, the stage was set to try `Breath of Crows', a slow meditation that is both dark and uplifting in my opinion. His choice of singing voice fitted the whole atmosphere, and I pushed him to carry on with this sung approach. As for my perception it is completely bound up in where the poem was written, which was under a Mumbai monsoon, in my small room over there, which was at tree level and meant I lived in close proximity to the city's crow population. It was the culmination of a lot of reading, thinking, working as a teacher at Utpal Shanghvi School, and living closely with these very intelligent animals in a culture that revered and took notice of all living things. The song is perhaps like a non religious hymn".


I have no doubt that first reviews will be controversial. Strange beasts (for sure those that come along with poetry) often produce defense mechanisms a la "highbrow" or "very intellectual". Don't expect some final words about the album. Many of you will be surprised, I think, in more than one or two ways! Old school? No, this is cuttin' edge! And Eno never overeggs the pudding: "Drums Between The Bells" is a wild thing! Some might think I'm a bit too enthusiastic about this record, but, no, I'm not!

P.S. The "special edition" offers a second disc with instrumental versions of the music, a foreword, and fine imagery inspired by the music - highly recommended, too! By the way, all the music is performed by Brian Eno. On some pieces Leo Abrahams plays guitar, Seb Rochford does some excellent drum work on the opening track, and the wonderful Nell Catchpole (who already added her magic in the days of WRONG WAY UP) plays violin and viola on several pieces.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa700d51c) out of 5 stars ENO's talent for sounding words Aug. 21 2011
By Tyrone Rex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I first got this CD, I was a bit skeptical about a spoken word poetry recording. I am such a fan of the instrumental work of ENO that, I tend to neglect the vocal works. After a few listens, I have come to think that this is one of his best works in years. I do not have the 2 cd version(yet). So my review is of the single disc.One of the talents Brian Eno has is knowing when to incorporate other talented people on his recordings.On this, he has chosen a few female speakers to read the poems.He seems to know which voice would go with the poems and his music. I will describe a few cuts to acknowledge his use of the vocalists as well as his own vocal performances.On track 2 "Glitch", Eno speaks through a vocoder. While this is an over used effect nowadays, Eno shows how well it works in the hands of a master. Track 3 "DREAMBIRDS" has an ambient piano and would not be out of place on a Harold Budd record. Track 4,"Pour it Out" has the best sounding voice. I wonder how he found such great sounding speakers. She has excellent enunciation and a softness that lends itself to his music. "Airman" ,track 7 also has a great voice too.The lady who speaks on Sound Alien is more stern, and her voice fits the turbulent drumming.
Another noteworthy feature is that some of the sounds Eno has chosen are reflective of Rick Hollands words. On Sound Alien, the line "Drums Between the Bells' (used as CD title) is spoken over bell like sounds, and drum sounds. On track 13 "Multimedia", the line "sticks click" is spoken over the sounds of clicking (sticks?). Eno has used his voice to it's best advantage. On "Dow", he almost sounds like Kraftwork, although the polyrhythm he has created is not as electronic sounding as theirs. On "Cloud",He sings in an almost trance like rhythm. By far the best of Eno's vocal performances is "Breath of Crows" He elongates the words , and invokes a mystical quality previously unheard from him. I was reminded of the late Jim Morrison for some reason. Perhaps the mystical invocations were similar. I will probably get the 2 cd version, but this one is adequate for listeners just beginning to enjoy Eno's music. It has enough instrumental diversity to satisfy ambient music fans, and the rockers who love"... Bush of Ghosts" . The cross section of musical styles is reflective of his past work. The Poetry is a new addition, and the words will invoke deeper thoughts in those looking for cerebral stimulation. What's not to like?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa700d504) out of 5 stars 2CD Deluxe Edition July 27 2011
By 77sunsetstrip - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I totally agree with Charles Miller's review. One interesting point, when I imported the discs into my iTunes music library, the second intrumental CD incorporates itself within the first CD, randomly inserting various tracks within the spoken word tracks. The end result is a whole new presentation of the work. Has anyone else noticed this?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa700d9c0) out of 5 stars Another compelling experiment in words and sounds July 17 2011
By Truman Chipotle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Eno continues to put out interesting, challenging work in late middle age. The production quality here is superb, the music compelling, dark and edgy (reminiscent at time of Eno's under-appreciated early 90's album "Nerve Net"). Eno's original artwork for the digi-pak is gorgeous. The poetry of Rick Holland (a person I'd never heard of) makes a lovely pairing with Eno's music here, and is sung/recited by several different guests on various tracks, and by Eno himself on a handful of tracks.

As on his previous release "Small Craft on a Milk Sea", the vibe here shifts from meditative and languid to jarring and percussive from one track to the next, so it isn't something you'd put on for bedtime listening as you would "Discreet Music" or "Apollo" for example.

Put aside your preconceptions and Eno nostalgia, and absorb this lovely work on its own merits, and I think you'll find it quite satisfying, at times challenging, but quite unlike anything you expected. Which is a good thing. I think "Small Craft" marked the beginning of a great new era for Eno, and got him out of a rut. It would behoove the listener to get out of the rut as well, and embrace the new along with the artist.

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