Cruising around my YouTube feed this morning, I stumbled upon a full album stream of Brian Eno’s 1977 record, Before and After Science. (It seems I can never go too long before posting another piece of music by this brilliant artist and creator. My latest was from his 2020 collaboration with his brother Roger, Mixing Colours.)
I’ve previously featured Before and After Science on this blog (with the classical rethink of Eno’s “By This River”). That’s likely why it came up in my YouTube feed since it is where I seek out video/audio to share in my posts.
The opening track on the album is “No One Receiving,” a jazzy number that has a lot of percussion guiding the song along:
- Solo singer, musician, former Genesis member and Eno collaborator Phil Collins plays the drum kit,
- Eno plays synthesized percussion, and
- His co-producer and audio engineer on the record, Rhett Davies, plays live percussion instruments.
The three complement each other’s beats, rhythms and fills. I find all the percussive sounds quite captivating, creating a solid yet sometimes chaotic foundation for the similarly jazz-influenced bass line, synthesizer treatments, and guitars. All this surrounds and supports Eno’s effects-layered vocals (which, to follow a theme over the past few days, makes the lyrics ever-so-slightly hard to follow).
The song, and indeed the album, is a bit of an enigma when it comes to categorization. The record includes calming, pastoral pieces, energetic works (like today’s selection), and softly-rocking experimental electronic songs. At the same time, it leans toward the ambient musical style that has dominated his work since the 1977 album.
It struck me today that the title of the 44-year-old album seems meaningful as we live in an age of fake news, conspiracy theories, and rampant distrust and manipulation of fact. In many ways, we appear to be in the “After Science” phase. Further, the song title and perhaps even the lyrics seem to speak to wilful ignorance of science-based information.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio from Brian Eno’s official YouTube channel:
Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.