Michael Brook

Cobalt Blue/Live at the Aquarium: London Zoo 21 May 1992

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Michael Brook's infinite guitar is a wonderful creation, allowing him to produce a remarkable range of sounds, from the ambient to the otherworldly. And collaborating with soundscaper Brian Eno, as he does on Cobalt Blue, is a masterstroke. They're very much of like mind (indeed, some of the ethos behind Eno and David Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts seems to be here), and with Eno as the architect behind each track -- although the tracks are essentially just shifting moods, rather than separate songs -- there's an ambient continuity to the album that serves it well. The textures and melodies of other cultures -- Arabic, even Indian -- peek through, while subtle rhythms play underneath on tracks like "Ultramarine." Never a prolific live performer, Brook did play a show at the Aquarium of the London Zoo for the press launch of Cobalt Blue. That became an album in its own right, and pairing them makes perfect sense. While on the surface live solo renditions of carefully crafted studio tracks made with other musicians might seem pointless, Brook injects a bite and spontaneity to them that offers different moods, one that demands to be heard. Whereas Cobalt Blue works on two levels, both as an ambient record and an extended meditation to be focused upon, Live at the Aquarium stands directly in front of the listener. Two sides of the coin from an unusual, adventurous talent.

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