Eno, Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy)
Nutty, superior studio craft. Just the right balance of studio technique and (session) musical talent. It sounds like an album of happy and conspiring coincidences. At first the silly lyric associations and the Ringo-esque vocals distract from the amazing songcraft at work below them — I don’t mean lyrical songcraft — I mean purely musical craft, something you only appreciate when you hear cover versions hereof (Back in Judy’s Jungle
for eg). Eno makes much of the irrelevance of lyrics, all lyrics, and yet he does take care with their fitting in and resonating. Ultimately, with songs like By This River
(on B4&AftrSc) you know he’s taking their quality very seriously, so I’ve always taken his disparagements with a grain of liver salt. The music of the songs comes first, and the lyrics only further contextualise the cream, they’re never central. The emotion is always in the music, so it’s pointless to read for deeper meanings beyond the loosest associations.
It feels almost like pure experimentation, a grand exercise in collaborative creation based on simple but potent seeds. That is, the expensive folly of using the studio not only as an instrument but as a tool of composition. An amazing production, all up: a producer’s dream of making superior pop music. Sometimes sinister and bent, it’s still a fresh collage that could only have been made in the early 70s. And in its guerrilla freedom and flaunting of potential, it’s somewhat akin to the Godard of the 60s.
Left them in Japan! That's what we're paid for here! We are the 801!