Brian Eno / Jah Wobble

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Spinner Review

by Dave Connolly

Brian Eno's icy ohms and Jah Wobble's din collide on Spinner. It's not a collaborative effort in the traditional sense; rather, Eno shipped off tracks from an aborted soundtrack to the ex-Public Image Ltd. bassist, who in turn mucked about with some of the tracks and left others unmolested. The end result is interesting: ten musical chambers linked together in a continuous stream that range from steamy Eastern settings ("Like Organza") to uber-funk experiments ("Unusual Balance"). However, Wobble's contributions feel tacked on, often tentative, more akin to an editor than an equal creative partner. This is Eno's world, and only gradually does Jah Wobble slip his toe into the water before splashing about. It's a hard balance to strike, wishing to keep Eno's alien landscapes intact while trying to add relevant commentary, and rarely do the two composers co-exist peacefully. The spirit of collaboration is alive on "Marine Radio," where Eno's soundtrack is relegated to the role of a single instrument, but more often the music fails to find a middle ground. Case in point: The three tracks that feature Eno alone fare much better than noisy hybrids like "Spinner" and "Left Where It Fell." Of course, Eno fans could find merit in 40 minutes of amplifier hum, and they'll find it in Spinner too. Some will point to individual sections that sound like Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror, Discreet Music, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and other instances where Eno's muse has been better served, claiming that this music too functions well as ambient music (albeit with a dub presence). Yet the sum effect of Eno and Wobble sounds more like Tangerine Dream from the '80s, at a time when that band began to abandon music as a homogenous whole and instead layered superficial rhythms on top of amorphous undercurrents. If the intent was to have Wobble and his bandmates throw a wrench into Eno's works, the sputtering Spinner should have been better. Note that a bonus song of eerie lounge music appears as a mystery 11th cut (actually the tail half of the tenth track separated by a few minutes of silence).

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