Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Small Craft on a Milk Sea, Brian Eno’s first album for electronic music label Warp, aims to reconnect with the questing electronica of his 1970s work. It largely succeeds. Devised from improvised sessions with two musicians, Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams, the album shifts from placid Eno soundscapes to uncharacteristic forays into Aphex Twin-style brutality.
Eno’s production is as meticulous as ever, though the optimistic outlook of his heyday, the sense of a knowable, navigable world conveyed by Another Green World and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, has drained away. Small Craft on a Milk Sea is gripped by dread: it depicts a fragile Earth, the small craft of the album’s title, undergoing an ecological crisis.
Final track “Late Anthropocene” – a scientific term coined to describe the present age of manmade environmental change – finds Eno’s electronics dissolving into a twinkling constellation of sounds as if erasing itself. The implication is unsettling. Is Eno’s beloved technology one of the drivers of planetary crisis?