Music » Album Reviews

New releases from Brian Eno, Field Trip, and Sxip Shirey

Sound Advice

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Brian Eno
  • Brian Eno

Brian Eno



File next to: Cluster, Steve Roach

Brian Eno's post-Roxy Music career has been wildly diverse, ranging from the postmodern pop of his earliest albums to the more impressionistic, ambient music that would later appear on albums like Thursday Afternoon and Music for Airports. Released on New Year's Day, Reflection definitely falls into the latter camp. A 54-minute ambient composition, it is calming and minimal, with ascending scales that build upon each other. Ever the experimentalist, Eno has also created "generative editions" of the album that enable the listener to create new versions of the work by tweaking the algorithms that created it. Eno would call this breaking down the boundaries between artist and listener, but at what point does the machine overtake the music? In the 1970s, detractors called Eno's compositions "music by robots, for robots." In 2017, he has moved this closer to reality. — LW

Field Trip
  • Field Trip

Field Trip

Horror Vacui

Field Trip

File next to: Flaming Lips, Beach House

Lush aural textures and inviting melodies are the hallmarks of Horror Vacui, the digital-only debut album from five-piece NYC band Field Trip. Gauzy production that occasionally recalls Psycho Candy-era Jesus and Mary Chain is applied to songs that have more than their fare share of hooks. The seven songs on Horror Vacui are mostly awash in synthesizer textures and effects, but those sonic qualities are employed as integral components of the songs themselves, never as mere filigree. Touches of industrial music — like the faraway atmospherics and percussion on the first minute or so of "Vacui 95" — give the album a dreamy feel, but those happily give way to reveal hypnotic, alluring melodies. Bits of found sound and dissonance only add to the appeal. Sometimes the arrangements are so dense as to make picking out individual instruments a difficult task, but the songs always shine through. — BK

Sxip Shirey
  • Sxip Shirey

Sxip Shirey

A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees

Via Records

File next to: Amanda Palmer, Yoko Ono

Brooklyn-based Sxip Shirey is often known to make music that uses found objects right alongside what one thinks of as traditional instruments. He's also fond of populating his music with lots of synthesizers, and some of his more experimental live events appear to draw their influences from the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and '70s. But this self-described electro-acoustic artist is just as deeply committed to groove and melody. As a result, A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees strikes the perfect balance between art-pop and dance-pop. Guest vocals from darling of Americana Rhiannon Giddens ("Woman of Constant Sorrow" and two others) and Xavier ("Cinnamon Stick" and "I Got a Man") are highlights, but this entire 17-track album of instrumentals and treated vocal tracks is a brilliant synthesis of styles. — BK

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