Published Feb 24, 2016Pop and ambient auteur Brian Eno has announced his first solo release in four years: The Ship. Described in a press release as a "musical novel," the follow-up to 2012's Lux docks April 29 via Warp/Fontana North.
The Ship comprises two long-form pieces, which Eno explained in a statement were inspired by thoughts of World War I, the Titanic, and how "the catastrophic failure of each set the stage for a century of dramatic experiments with the relationships between humans and the worlds they make for themselves."
In a statement, Eno had this to say of his latest collection:
On a musical level, I wanted to make a record of songs that didn't rely on the normal underpinnings of rhythmic structure and chord progressions but which allowed voices to exist in their own space and time, like events in a landscape. I wanted to place sonic events in a free, open space.
One of the starting points was my fascination with the First World War, that extraordinary trans-cultural madness that arose out of a clash of hubris between empires. It followed immediately after the sinking of the Titanic, which to me is its analogue. The Titanic was the Unsinkable Ship, the apex of human technical power, set to be Man's greatest triumph over nature. The First World War was the war of materiel, 'over by Christmas', set to be the triumph of Will and Steel over humanity. The catastrophic failure of each set the stage for a century of dramatic experiments with the relationships between humans and the worlds they make for themselves.
I was thinking of those vast dun Belgian fields where the First World War was agonizingly ground out; and the vast deep ocean where the Titanic sank; and how little difference all that human hope and disappointment made to it. They persist and we pass in a cloud of chatter.
The opening 21-minute title track is built around "creeping electronics" and cyclical, sea chant-style vocals. The following "Fickle Sun" is then presented in three movements, which include a poem read by British comedian Peter Serafinowicz and a closing cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Set Free."
A press release explained: "The poem read by Peter Serafinowicz was created by a Markov Chain Generator (software written by Peter Chilvers) into which we fed accounts of the sinking of the Titanic, some First World War soldiers songs, various bits of cyber-bureaucracy and warnings about hacking, some songs of mine, some descriptions of machinery, and so on. The Generator produced thousands of lines of text from which I extracted a few and then put them into this order."
Of using including the homage to the Velvet Underground, Eno himself added: "Written in the late '60s, Lou Reed's song 'I'm Set Free' seems even more relevant now than it did then. Perhaps anybody who's read Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens will recognize the quiet irony of 'I'm set free to find a new illusion'...and its implication that when we step out of our story we don't step into 'the truth' — whatever that might be — but into another story."
While details have yet to arrive in full, Eno will support The Ship with a series of installation events, which will deliver an "alternative telling of 'The Ship' in multi-channel three-dimensional sound installations."
1. The Ship
2. Fickle Sun: i) Fickle Sun ii) The Hour is Thin iii) I'm Set Free