Release Date: Nov 8, 2011
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Ambient, Avant-Garde, Experimental Ambient, Experimental Electronic, Avant-Garde Music
A six-track EP, Panic of Looking continues the collaboration of producer Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland, with similarly intriguing results as on the earlier Drums Between the Bells. No collection of outtakes or castoffs, the album is just as mesmerizing as the best moments on Drums Between the Bells. As before, Holland provides all the words but very few of the vocals.
Few musicians have embraced and galvanized the potential of the modern production studio to as much acclaim as Brian Eno has. However under the radar his name may fly for many listeners, the pervasiveness of his influence is difficult to understate: The man more or less coined and created ambient music (or “sonic landscapes,” as he once called it) as a recognizable genre and did much to popularize sampling with Talking Heads’ David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Of late, Eno has turned to the rich no-man’s-land between different media by experimenting with generative music, songs created by programmed software, which he made mainstream with iPhone apps like Bloom and Trope.
Brian Eno, whose reputation certainly precedes him, has decided – alongside his other current work – to continue with the project that began with this past summer’s Drums Between the Bells for new EP Panic of Looking, a disc that also uses the words of Rick Holland and features the voices of Darla Eno, Patrick Sim, Anastasia Afonina, and Bronagh Gallagher, as well as Eno and Holland themselves. The results are very impressive. Throughout the six brief tracks, Holland’s words are perfect for the kinds of shimmering, almost acoustic-sounding worlds that Eno develops.
Adding to a long career already peppered with collaborations with other artists, Brian Eno offers a gentle, meditative presentation of the poetic words of Rick Holland in his new EP Panic of Looking. Strongly reminiscent of the quieter, vocal-laced pieces of his earlier classic album Another Green World, the unusual equilibrium established in Panic of Looking between music and words defies the typical presentation of poetic or spoken word albums, making this work a boundary-pushing examination of the relationship between the two, while delicately subverting our expectations of how the music should serve those accompanying words and vice versa. .
A 16-minute EP of leftovers, released in conjunction with a little mountain town's music festival-- doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But you could put Brian Eno's name on the cover of just about anything and generate intense anticipation and scrutiny. Our prime architect of interdisciplinary electronic art has so much authority that when I don't love one of his records, I feel disappointed in myself. That was the case with Drums Between the Bells, a worthy but uneven collaboration with the poet Rick Holland, where sonic miracles sat cheek-by-jowl with dated electronic styles perhaps better left in mothballs.
Earlier this year, Brian Eno set out to adapt the thickly veiled poetry of Rick Holland to his own signature style of ambient electronica with the full length album Drums Between the Bells. Four months later comes this follow-up EP, Panic of Looking, showing off the same arcane package of circumstantial synthesizer jitters banging against a bunch of I-get-this-poem-and-you-don’t kind of prose. And what’s more distracting are the tracks featuring vocalists Anastasia Afonina and Bronaugh Gallagher, existing to make a novelty of their hard “R” accents.
Having now met a portion of the DiS community I get the feeling that the majority of readers and writers on this site are, shall we say, a little bit geeky, and as such probably don’t need the concept of the technological singularity explaining to them in great depth. Still, I had to take a trip to Wikipedia to remind myself, so it’s probably worth a brief recap that said singularity concerns the 'hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as an intellectual event horizon, beyond which the future becomes difficult to understand or predict.
The duo explores an inverted, shifted relationship between words and music. David Stubbs 2011 Eno’s third collection for Warp, and his second collaboration with the poet Rick Holland following Drums Between the Bells, is an EP on which the duo again explores an inverted, shifted relationship between words and music in song. Eno’s backdrops, on In the Future for example, are spare, darkly turquoise, semi-ambient, yet insinuate themselves into the foreground, like a servant overshadowing the master.