Brian Eno

Drums Between the Bells

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Drums Between the Bells is a collaboration by producer Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland. It was recorded just after Eno finished work on 2010's Small Craft on a Milk Sea, his debut for Warp, and it followed on the release schedule less than a year later. In that sense, the timing was good for such a risky project. Music and poetry are often difficult companions, and combining them is best left to experts; fortunately, Eno is just such an expert. Although Holland is an obscure poet, he first came to Eno’s notice back in the late ‘90s (through a university project), and his poetry is very good. Although his words and thoughts are impressionistic, his themes are easier to peg: urban living, science, and the intersection of philosophy and biology. The music is almost entirely Eno’s own, with only a few tracks featuring guest credits -- much less so than his previous album. While scattered moments here prove that percussion is still not his strong suit, the production is inviting, innovative, and a larger contributor to the general excellence of the record than the poetry. Eno draws mostly on ambient music for these productions, and only occasionally processes the vocals. One other characteristic, aside from Eno and Holland, makes this an unlikely success: there are a total of nine voices heard here (Holland only recites on one track). The decision to vary the speaking participants helps distinguish each piece, and gives the album just the hint of variety it needs.

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