Quite a coincidence. Before receiving Endless City / Concrete Garden, I'd been revisiting Roger Eno's haunting Voices and his brother Brian's equally eerie but gently imposing Music for Films. I did so because, even with all the great music I receive to review here at FAME, I need a vacation from form and architecture every so often, and those two releases, among a double handful of others, have forever served as classic faerylands of mental repose and emotional stillness, quiet museums for the ear. Roger, over the years, has produced a number of gorgeous chamber works, is in fact a modern master of the form, has initiated experimental collaborations, has participated in potentially more commercial ventures like Channel Light Vessel, and here returns to a combination of the sublime, of furniture music, of ambientalism, and of light experimentation.
However, a side interest of his has ever been the aesthetically deranged mind—which I guess is a sort of redundancy when one thinks about it—and in The Music of Neglected English Composers presented the works of some fascinatingly obsessed individuals, one of whom, Gayle Hawes, spent 67 years writing versions of the only song she ever crafted, filling 950 notebooks with the variants. As of notebook 200, 14,000 had been created; you can guess how many finally made their way to paper. At 81, she realized she'd finished her task, committed suicide, and left behind a note stating simply "It's over".
This time around, on Endless City, the chosen eccentric was one Arlette Feindre, poetess, who'd experienced a series of emotionally shattering experiences while young and thereafter remained distant from love, taking, as she herself wrote in Beauté de Passage, "a new lover every week of every year". Her then-lover read Beauté and put an end to her. That poem is read in the final cut to this disc…in French. The whole disc, though, is pastoral, contemplative, restrained, a set of tone poems thoughtful and at times exalted.
This is what New Age music should have been—the entire gig started in progrock and jazz after all (though, if you want to go back to Satie, I won't argue) but only very occasionally attains to. The difference between Eno & Plumbline and the ocean of incense-shop smiley-face drek is an intelligence impossible to describe in words, kind of like having to explain a joke: once essayed, it's lost. And, as though to underscore the refined mania Eno enjoys by way of historic figures, Endless City, as with his and Plumbline's last collab, never saw the two musicians in the same room at any point, all work accomplished via computers and shared files. If you thought shaded bowers, electron impulses, and the quieter shores of space could never meet, think again.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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