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Before and After Science
Brian Eno

Island 9478
Released: May 1978
Chart Peak: #171
Weeks Charted: 5

Brian EnoEno is one of those progressive English musicians with his own rock vision. The music caters to aficionados of the avant-garde with its synthesizer and percussion nucleus. Eno plays something different on just about each tune including piano, synthesizer, guitar, vibes, brass. Band members rank among England's best session players. Best cuts: "No One Receiving," "Julie With," "Heer He Comes."

- Billboard, 1978.

Bonus Reviews!

To call this album disappointing is to complain that it isn't transcendent. In fact, my objections begin only when he makes transcendence his goal: I don't like the murkiness of the quiet, largely instrumental reflections that take over side two. Dirty sound is functional in loud music, but no matter how much of a "water album" this is, the airy specificity of Another Green World mix might save music like "Through Hollow Lands" from the appearance of aimlessness. None of which diminishes side one's oblique, charming tour of the popular rhythms of the day, from Phil Collin's discoid-fusion drumming on "No One Receiving" to the dense, deadpan raveup of (find the anagram) "King's Lead Hat." A-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

This thrashing partial return to more basic song structures is punctuated by the exhilarating "King's Lead Hat." * * * * *

- John Floyd, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Ever the consummate perfectionist, Eno has too many albums to consider, but this glistening, mysterious, sonically layered masterpiece is the seminal one to have. The father of ambient, perhaps now best known as producer (U2, Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads, etc., etc.), concocts the most gently, beautiful songs one can imagine, marrying perfect pop moments to experimentalism while validating the synthesizer as a musical instrument -- surely this is what Stanley Kubrick's Hal listens to. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

Before And After Science could be Brian Eno's secret masterpiece, yet it remains an uncelebrated album.

Eno built each piece from layer upon layer of performances from the likes of Phil Manzanera, Robert Fripp, Achim Roedulius, and Mobi Moebius of Cluster, and er...Phil Collins. The results still sound astonishing. "Kurt's Rejoinder" samples dadaist performance artist Kurt Schwitters before samplers were even invented, while "No One Receiving" and the rampaging "King's Lad Hat" (an anagram of Talking Heads, whom Eno was producing at the time) foreshadow the febrile ethnic funk of 1981's collaboration with David Byrne, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts.

Yet this album points to more than one future for Eno. Its introspective second half prefigures much of his 1980s work, particularly the atmospheres of the Ambient series. Where the album's earlier tracks were built up from nothing, these seem intent on returning there. Dedicated to Harold Budd, the limpid "Through Hollow Lands" sounds like a premonition of Eno's later albums with the minimalist pianist, while the exquisitely sad Cluster collaboration "By This River" consists of little more than a two-finger piano riff and Eno's resigned vocals. Best of all is "Spider And I," an elegaic synth piece that makes it clear that Before And After Science is the end of one way of making music and the beginning of many more. Essential.

- Mark Bennett, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

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