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Sunday Night Journal — June 17, 2007

Music of the Week — June 17, 2007

Brian Eno: Another Green World

As I’ve mentioned before, I make it a rule to listen to a work at least three times before formulating any judgment on it. That’s not always the end of the story, of course—sometimes I change my mind after six or eight or a dozen hearings. But three is the minimum for avoiding a premature dismissal of something that’s not immediately winning, or excessive enthusiasm for something that doesn’t hold up. As I’ve also mentioned, a lot of this listening takes place in the car while I’m on the way to and from work, which of course is far from ideal.

After hearing Another Green World twice in the car, I was prepared to object to the All Music Guide’s description of it as “a universally acknowledged masterpiece”: universal minus one, at best, I thought. Then I listened to it with headphones, and heard something entirely different. In the car—which is to say, on a poor system with a lot of surrounding noise that overpowers detail—it’s an eccentric light-pop album with some interesting tunes and a lot of electronic noodling. Through headphones it’s a tour-de-force of production and arrangement.

I missed Eno entirely during the LP era, which is maybe just as well; the sheer richness and variety of timbral detail of this work, much of it soft and subtle, really need the pristine digital environment. It still seems a bit on the light side, and I’m not willing to go as far as “masterpiece,” but it’s impressive and fascinating.



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