Few musical artists are as influential and multi-faceted as Brian Eno. Founding member of Roxy Music, godfather of Ambient music, and avant-garde collaborator with the likes of Robert Fripp, John Cale, David Byrne and many others, Eno has been best known for decades as the uber-producer of such artists as Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2 and Coldplay. Many books have been written about his Roxy Music and solo works, along with his autobiographical writings. “Visual Music” is the first book by Eno to properly place his work in a multi-media context, perhaps the best way to truly understand the magnitude of his singular genius in how he straddles a myriad of artistic disciplines and popular and avant-garde art. The book reflects to a great degree his multi-media visual installations and the working artistic process behind the finished creations. Summing up 40 years of an artist’s attempt to forge a new way of looking and listening, this book holds an abundance of richly conceived art and a deep, thoughtful and at times whimsical insight into the fertile mind of a great artist. The parts of the book that detail what Eno calls his Oblique Strategies alone make this book worth the price of admission.
On the musical front, Eno is at one of the most overtly accessible phases of his recording career with the release of Someday World (Warp), a collaboration with Karl Hyde of Underworld. The album will immediately thrill fans of Eno’s work with John Cale and other non-Ambient solo works, as it reflects the most straightforward, vocal-based music Eno has recorded in years. The electro-pop features all the quirky keyboard and tape effects that one expects from Eno. Another Eno-Hyde release will appear shortly.
David Sylvian has had a career that in many respects shadows the career of Brian Eno. Like Eno, Sylvian is British, left a major British band (Japan), retreated from pop stardom and has collaborated with avant-garde artists such as Jon Hassell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robert Fripp and others. “On the Periphery: David Sylvian – A Biography The Solo Years,” by Christopher E. Young, ambitiously and effectively takes on the unenviable task of chronicling the dense and diffuse, 30-plus-year solo career of one of the most challenging cult artists in music. Young’s book is more than just a linear biography, it seeks to explore, unravel and summarize a wide range of musical projects, many with strong visual, poetic and spiritual elements. Unlike many cheesy rock star biographies focused on sex, drugs, alcohol, rehab, rumors, breakups, personal love and family dirt, Young’s book successfully explores an artist of many creative shades.