Published Apr 29, 2016Brian Eno explores the elastic border between minimalism and melody with The Ship. Just when it's about to recede into the background, it comes to life to perk the listener's ear.
The title track draws on ASMR techniques. Eno's peculiar focus on texture in the production indicates a desire to challenge expectations of non-invasive listening. He seemingly seeks to elevate ambient from a genre marked by its mode of listening to an experience with a distinct physiological impact.
The Ship whirs and sputters through synthesizers and spoken word that give it a voice of its own. The narrative inclusions that are littered throughout the three renditions of "Fickle Sun" continuously seize the listener's attention. Eno is unafraid of introducing abrasion to ambience, as "Fickle Sun (i)" descends into a power anthem of aggressive brass and sustained feedback. "Fickle Sun (ii)," meanwhile, opens with the stark, wistful keys that raised Music for Airports I to critical acclaim, and features narration by Peter Serafinowicz.
The Ship is, thus, a far more intrusive take on what constitutes as ambient music. As incongruous as it is comforting, the record oscillates between the cinematic and the sombre. It's a majestic exercise that, across 48 minutes, offers the listener a meditative lull that, however contradictorily, refuses to be ignored. (Warp)