The shiny silver disc of Brian Eno's CD is encased in a simple outer shell of cardboard, accompanied by an equally unassuming booklet with over a half-dozen spherical images. In all probability, this modest packaging and those spheres, many supported by skeletal broadcast tower-like shafts, is a cryptic puzzle being used by Eno to help him contact someone, somewhere far, far beyond the faintest of stars. Curiously, any image of a human is absent. Regardless, power up your machine, insert the disc and let the journey of discovery begin.
For decades, Eno has been a master of experimental sounds, constructing aural landscapes vs. simply creating instrumentals or writing and co-writing songs. Those glorious glam days with David Bowie and Roxy Music have long since faded into the distant past (he was even MIA when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Roxy Music in 2019.) With Foreverandevermore, Eno swirls together ambient sounds, wisps of ghostly sonic mist, tonal washes and more. Collectively, the album is an acknowledgement of the tribulations of a civilization that defiantly dances on the brink of a razor's edge as eight billion people induce self-inflicted wounds, blindly challenge each other and disregard this good earth.
Eno delivers his messages via slow, deliberate songs which are deceptively soothing. He understands a whisper can be more powerful than a shout. In many ways, this collection is the antithesis of Philip Glass's chaotic soundtrack / tone poem "Koyaanisqatsi." Eno's lyrics float on ethereal ribbons of sound and hypnotically beckon the listener back for repeated listens. He chants about a "starless night" (on the first song,) a "deep sun and blinding sky" (second,) reaching "above the galaxy," (third) a "garden of stars" (fourth) and more. The words of "There Were Bells" are for heeding:
"There were horns as loud as war that tore apart the sky. There were storms and floods of blood of human life."
The next song alerts us to the "last light of an old sun" as Eno continues to gently wave goodbye as he drifts further and further away. As he moves deeper into his own space odyssey, will he light upon a barren surface or discover tiny buds fresh with new life?
There are times when Eno's messages are embedded in atmospheric new age or relaxing meditative music. But one needs to pay attention to the lyrics since most of them are cautious signposts, while some songs, such as "There Were Bells" and "These Small Noises," are flashing warnings signs (unfortunately, a lyric sheet is missing.) At the close of the disc, Eno and his co-conspirators craft an extended near instrumental piece with cryptic, barely audible vocals as Japanese performance artist Kyoko Inatome makes her first and only appearance. The seemingly peaceful composition gradually yet stealthily sedates. Then, Eno and company silently slip away like shadows and one begins to realize that time is running out. The listener may pause, waiting patiently for the next sound. What follows is nothing.
Who Gives A Thought; We Let It In; Icarus or Bleriot; Garden of Stars; Inclusion; There Were Bells; Sherry; I'm Hardly
Me; These Small Noises; Making Gardens Out Of Silence In The Uncanny Valley.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.