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After duo works with Robert Fripp, Harold Budd, David Byrne, brother Roger, Peter Schwalm a.o., Brian Eno started another creative duo with Underworld maestro Karl Hyde in the year 2014. In fact, the teamwork ended in the same year, within three months roundabout: a short span of time for two great albums, Someday World, and High Life. One more on the song side, the other freewheelin‘, rougher. I was there in the studio of day one of High Life. The first two improvisations didn’t end up on the album. Fully enjoying this „concert for one“, Brian asked what I was thinking. I answered something like: „Quite hypnotic, something Arabian, a distant echo of the more anarchic sounds of Embryo.“ On this blog you can find my long interview with the two lads, in which they looked back on Someday World. The interview and the old card game titled „Oblique Strategies“, inspired two excellent Frank Nikol „one picture stories“. What you see above is just a photo of mine in mono comic mode. (Brian Eno‘s „Film Music (1976-2020) is no. 2 of my year‘s end list of archival discoveries / reissues.  Brian will speak about this album and his classic „Music For Films“ (1978) in my edition of the radio night „Klanghorizonte“ on Dec. 26, between 3.05 and 4.00 am)


2019 11 Sep


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„With its wistful tone, subtle, folky score and confidence in letting dialogue and sentiments breathe, The Detectorists is a show that does not feel the need to shout about its strengths. In fact, the series is not even really about metal-detecting. The hobby could be replaced by trainspotting, bird-watching or just spending too much time in the shed. It’s what these characters are running from, as much as what they are looking for, that lies at its heart.“

(David Renshaw, The Guardian).



Frinton, with its wide sandy beach, has gone out of its way to remain as uncommercialised as possible and maintain its reputation as a quiet resort. Somewhat in contrast to neighbouring Clacton or Walton it has an air of reserved gentility and has been rewarded for its outstanding experimental music scene with a Blue Flag award. Karl Hyde, Rustin Man, and John Surman know this area quite well. And, it’s just one hour away from Brian Eno‘s hometown in Suffolk. The area where W. G. Sebald had been walking around for weeks and weeks, in search of inspiration for  his wonderful book „The Rings of Saturn“.

The gently shelving beach is divided up by a series of timber groynes. Frinton’s sand is of the type that is perfect for making sandcastles – nice and firm. This means it is also ideal for running around and beach games, further asserting its credentials as being a natural playground for young and old. To the rear of the beach is an extensive promenade, much of which is lined with colourful, old-fashioned beach huts. There is also an extensive grassy area, the Greensward, which is an ideal spot for a picnic. So, beach time will soon be starting – see ya again, in thunder, lightnin‘, or in rain. And, by the way, one of the best British comedy TV series ever, three seasons long and utterly brilliant, was made nearby, „The Detectorists“.




„Sat in the corner of the Garden Grill, with plastic flowers on the window sill / No more miracles, loaves and fishes, / been so busy with the washing of the dishes / Reaction level’s much too high – I can do without the stimuli / I’m living way beyond my ways and means, living in the zone of the inbetweens / I can see the flashes on the frozen ocean, static charge of the cold emotion / Watched on by the distant eyes – watched on by the silent hidden spies.“


Das waren erstaunliche Werke: 1, 2, 3, 4 – nach den Jahren mit Genesis. Peter Gabriel wurde vom CEO seiner Plattenfirma mit Sorgenfalten wahrgenommen. Da machte sich tatsächlich einer Gedanken zum Geisteszustand des Hochseilartisten, der extreme Dynamik und Theatralik ins Spiel (in die Lieder) warf, Crash und Dissonanz – tribal rhythms und andere Exotika liessen die ferne Welt hinein (die da noch irritierend klang, nicht nach Allerweltsgroove), in all diesen Urschrei-erprobten Rollenspielen, beim Hineinschlüpfen in Verwirrte, Heilsucher, Wahnsinnige und Griots. Holly Sykes müsste diese Scheiben geliebt haben.

Die vier Soloalben des Engländers liegen in exzellenten 45 rpm-Fassungen vor. Und was den CEO anging (dem die Musik wie die cover art etwas Angst einjagte): Peter Gabriel ging es sehr gut in jenen Jahren, er war auf der Höhe seiner Kunst.

Neben 4, auch als „Security“ gehandelt (zusammen mit 3 aka „Melt“ das herausragende Album dieses Quartetts der Jahre 1977 – 1982), liegt noch eine andere Klasseplatte auf dem Betontisch, Schmelzstoff aus der zweiten Hälfte der Neunziger, Underworld’s Second Taughest In The Infance. „Dance Music with twists amd turns“ (NME), die man auch als Couchkartoffel und im Lotussitz geniessen kann.

Karl Hyde, Rick Smith und Derren Emerson werkelten im Osten Londons an dem Nachfolger des grandiosen Albums DUBNOBASSWITHYOURHEADON. Sie sprengten gängige Technoformeln und schmuggelten Zutaten der guten alten Rock- und Kraut- und Bluesmusik in ihre Tanzbodenunterwelt. SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANCE ist die Stadt als Collage, ein Mix von Assoziationen, aufgeschnappten Gesprächen, flüchtigen Impressionen – gefiltert durch diverse Bewusstseinszustände und Zufallsmuster. Und in Kürze erscheint Neues aus der Unterwelt! Der Song „Motorhome“ ist mein Lieblingsstück aus dem Album „BARBARA, BARBARA, WE FACE A SHINING FUTURE“.

2014 13 Jul


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The only place where I listen to a song, maybe 15, 20 times in a row, or every day and nothing else for a while, is my car. It happened to the longest track of the last Wilco album, it happened to „Porpoise Mouth“ of Country Joe & The Fish, known as the first psycedelic rock album of history, and it lately happened to „Return“ from Eno’s and Hyde’s „High Life“. It’s vintage Eno, he sings, wrote the lyrics, plays all synths and shares background voices with Karl Hyde who also contributes CDJ groove, guitar and bass guitar. Marianna Champion is the third voice in the background. Even Brian’s delivery of the forefront singing is partly buried in the mix and the excellent, mantra-like strumming of Karl’s electric guitar. Is it a sad song? I can only catch up single words, a certain non-cliche kind of melancolia might be at work. A kind of yearning? Watching beauty fading? I really want to creep under the skin of this killing melody. When the singing of the real words ends, we come to Brian’s floating „Hu-hu-hu“-singing which seems to offer joy and relief, and then a mesmerizing synth melody enters the scenery of a song that could go on forever. As it, in fact, does, in my Toyota, on this rainy Sunday morning, and the days to come. No doubt about it, this is my song of the year. It wouldn’t add to the dose of endorphines set free here, but if anyone is able to transcribe the lyrics, I would be very interested in reading them. Sometimes I try to just concentrate on the words, but from one moment to another, my attention is blown away by all the other ingrediencies.

The smile, well, I was there, in Eno’s studio, at the early sessions of this project. This doesn’t influence my subtle degree of enthusiasm, believe me! There is no stiff agenda in the ongoing collaboration between Brian Eno and Karl Hyde. The only routine may be to break the rules of decent, nostalgia-driven recyclings. Finding deep pleasure in free improvisations with the help of some inventive spirits as well as pre-recorded programming & samples. At their hands collective ideas materialize into promising shapes.

But, well, patience is the mother of thrill-seeking! There might have been false beginnings, wrong endings, the whole baggage of losing something, missing something, and getting lost in the „free improv“-approach. You just have to be ready not to miss the rare tickets for the unholy grail, and then you’ll fire on all cylinders, – a piece of crap turns into a shining tune, every wrong footstep can land on fruitful ground.

Nothing comes out of nowhere, because there is no nowhere in the vast spaces of the unconscious. Every „nowhere“ in the creative process is a buried treasure, a stand-by modus of the dreaming mind. Of course these guys have their tastes and preferences and desert island grooves spinning around: they love the call-and-response patterns of Fela Kuti, the merciless repetitions and „forward momentum“ of Steve Reich’s classic works, or the funky expressionism of the Talking Heads in their salad days.

At the same time nothing is more boring than play homage with undoubtably good taste, decent tunes, perfect timing and a self-conscious „those were the days“-state of mind. What you get on „High Life“ is a fabulous collection of six oblique, diverse and coherent tracks, producing simultaneously disorientation and deja vu. Strange lyrics are part of the game, too: „The door between us is Lilac / and made of something like light / but not“ („Lilac“). The listener who is ready to enjoy this music at his or her own risk will be lost in distant echoes resembling certain stylistic spheres that receive a continuous deconstruction of the extraordinary kind.

How can a record that contains hard-strumming guitar parts, liquid half-buried-in-the-mix-vocals, gospel-tinged pseudo-disco-vibes, catchy slow motion melodies on the verge of „last breath-syndrome“, short prog-rock shots (from a deserted area of the court of the Crimson King), be such a rewarding and deep listening experience (rather than being a quite nice visit to a curiousity shop)? A short answer? „There’s simplicity in it“, Eno sings on the last track, a vintage „ambient song“. Yes, simplicity. And intricacies, too, but hard to tell the difference. Don’t trust first impressions. Listen sideways. 



2014 28 Mai

High Life

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Let’s end the day with a bang! The second album from Brian Eno and Karl Hyde will be out on June 27th. And I’m quite sure I’ve listened to the growing of one or two of the tracks during the legendary „concert for one“ :)! The big question is: will I get an advance copy for my next „Klanghorizonte“ show at the Deutschlandfunk on June 21st, starting one hour after midnight and running for three hours in a row …!?  And, yes, the title of the album is  „High Life“. 


„When Someday World was finished I felt like we were still on a roll and I wasn’t ready to stop working and get into ‚promotional mode‘ for that record,“ Brian Eno explains. „So I suggested we immediately start on another album, a different one, where we extended some of the ideas we’d started, and attempted some of the ideas we hadn’t.“

„I wanted to work with a stripped down set of equipment,“ Karl Hyde says of the record. „For this album I was very keen for Brian to live process my guitar playing so that we would be effecting one another’s performance, bouncing off each other, inspiring new combinations of polyrhythms.“

Excerpts from an email Brian sent me on May 1st:

Our new record is almost finished…we’re in the last two days. It’s been a great experience and I can’t wait to see what people think of this music.

Thank you SO MUCH for the YMG’s. I don’t know how I didn’t know about them before now. Problem with being a working musician is that you don’t get much chance to listen to music! if you’re an artist or a writer you can have the radio on all the time…which is why artists and writers know more about music than anybody else.


YMG is the abbreviation of  „Young Marble Giants“ , an ascetic masterpiece (imo) Brian had totally missed when it had been released at the beginning of the 80’s (at that time he was  living in New York, the Talking Heads, David Byrne, Jon Hassell, and some Future Ambient classics (On Land, Apollo) were part of that life that also lead to early video experiments, first encounters with Daniel Lanois (will Warp / All Saints reissue Roger Eno’s Voices and Michael Brook’s buried treasure Hybrid?) Productions  also included the New York No-Wave-scene and  zither maestro Laraaji. The forthcoming album High Life with some Steve Reich and Fela Kuti-connections seems to revitalize some of the wild vibes of that era, too. (m.e.)

This is the link:
专访Ambient创始人Brian Eno 和Underworld主唱Karl …

The Manafonistas are so grateful that Wicki has done this amazing job!  It’s a slightly condensed version, but contains all essential parts of the original interview posted here on May 1st. There might be some minor adjustements in the design. Here you see how it starts …

Eno 博士和Hyde先生的奇妙探险 – Michael Engelbrecht 专访Ambient音乐创始人以及Underworld乐队主唱
(翻译:Wicki 爱尔福克)

Brain Eno 和Karl Hyde带着一丝神奇和野性创造那些让人不安、却又优美的歌曲。Brain 清楚如何在陈旧老路上找寻出口,对他俩来说迷路是心灵的需要。他们正行走于英国古老土地的边缘,身边便是另一个蓝色的世界。“the satellites sing songs / The days run into one / I need the sound of cars / To drown the quiet sun“



2014 5 Mai

A Love Of Empty Trains

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I cannot say how much I appreciate Karl Hyde’s diary (new on our blogroll). So, as it happens to me when reading good poems or sharply cut short prose, my eyes come to rest wandering around the words without any hurry. So, today, another higlight that doesn’t seek for attention, egoless, but fully awake: A LOVE OF EMPTY TRAINS 

When I entered Brian Eno’s studio in West London on a sunny, early April morning, he was just working on an idea in his head (a special sound maybe, a rhythm, a melodic shape?). I was quiet for a moment so that he could make a mental note. – You look a bit Moroccan, I then said to him. I’ve never seen Brian Eno with a white beard before. He really was in the Moroccan hills a short time ago. What I didn’t know was that he bought a hat there – in that country that was once a “hippie dream world” deep in the last century, but which turned to hell for too many young people. I have known Brian since 1989, and when I’m in London, there are casual meetings once in a while. This time Brian and Karl would play a „concert for one“, happily for me, two days later. When I left the studio, with a copy of SOMEDAY WORLD, I saw Brian setting a pulsating electronic rhythm in motion. Always fun to hear a glimpse of a possible future. Hope he was able to – nearly seamlessly, return to the idea he had in his mind – meaning the completely different place he had been some minutes before!



On Feb. 28th Karl Hyde wrote down three sentences, entitled IN A TROPICAL COCOON: „Old man wheeled in a chair through the Aroma of exotic streets wearing a distant expression. The stories he has written slip away, will be forgotten. They lie behind him in a trail of ghost memories, in the market on Pagoda street.“ An accidental observation, a dream sequence? Who knows? Karl Hyde has the knack of getting lost in special moments and sceneries of modern life, focussed on things that might otherwise disappear before you really see them. Brian Eno is his companion in creating disturbing, beautiful songs with a sense of wonder and wilderness in SOMEDAY WORLD. Brian (also fond of notebooks and diaries) knows how to look for exit signs on old, well-trodden paths. Getting lost is a heartfelt need. For both of them. Between the blurred edges of England’s old soil and another blue world „The satellites sing songs / The days run into one / I need the sound of cars / To drown the quiet sun“.


Michael Engelbrecht: In the 70’s one of your four so-called song albums of that decade contained the word „world“, „Another Green World“, a work full of exotic landscapes. In 2005, „Another Day On Earth“suggested a return to the real life on this planet, and your new collaboration with Karl Hyde, „Someday World“ again seems to cover existential issues. I just have to look at the cover, a strange, kind of psychedelic picture.
Brian Eno: I think it’s an optimistic choice. It’s the idea of a world that might actually turn out to be okay in the end. To everybody’s surprise, it might be a good world, there’s still a chance. In fact the record started out with quite a different mood. It ended up somewhere much more positive and joyful than really the place it began. I mean we weren’t miserable when we started, but there was a sort of slightly angry energy, as we started working together, but, because we were enjoying the process so much, the record actually came out with a lot of that joy in it …
Michael: … that is often undermined with rather dark undercurrents, in the lyrics, for example.
Brian: One of the things I like about the result is that two different sets of emotions are stuck together, and they can actually coexist. I always like things when I think, when I feel they are emotinally complicated. I don’t really like emotionally simple art (laughs).
Michael: When moments of anger or despair are mixed with euphoria, you can call it „hysteric“ in the field of Clinical Psychology. Here the songs all get a second or even third bottom. They seem to be alive and well, despite some of the more or less hidden shades of disturbance and sadness.

Brian: Yes, you’re quite right. You asked about the cover of the album, that’s very much the picture of the cover as well. It’s a picture of a bit of a railway line actually, and it’s a very industrial, not attractive landscape in a way. It looks like a vision of a place you wouldn’t want to live. But in fact by making that kind of false world behind it, it suddenly suggests that it might be a kind of utopia. And I think in the song „A Man Wakes Up“ the same thing happens: the guy suddenly realizes that he’s very happy, he’s very fulfilled. I have this experience sometimes when I remember times in the past, and I think, ah, that was a great time, I was really happy then … If I go and look at my diaries or my notebooks, I’m always complaining (laughs). So these times when actually I was really enjoying it, I thought that things weren’t so good, you know, my perception of the time was, this is a difficult time, my perception in retrospect is – that was a great time. Nearly all the times have been great, actually …
Michael: Nevertheless, missed opportunities seem to be one recurring topic of „Someday World“, for example in the song „Witness“. We can hear this frenetic singing: „Did you ever loose your faith for a day / Seeing everything slip away? / Did you ever take a bribe? / Or a ride, a ride, a ride along a road / You’d taken all your life / Only to find it didn’t go to the place you thought it would arrive.“ Apart from that it seems to be a love song where someone is missed in the early hours after midnight …
Brian: I don’t think it’s about a romantic relationship, or at least it shouldn’t only be about that. It could be about that as well. It’s about a relationship. It could be friends, or lovers, we don’t know. The song doesn’t tell you, and I think it shouldn’t really tell you which one it is. What is exciting to me about that song, there’s a sort of yearning feeling to it … somebody wanting something so badly that they can’t see that it’s already there (laughs). Maybe that’s the feeling I get from it.
Michael: Karl and you have both shared the writing of the lyrics. Nevertheless certain motives do appear or reappear during the nine songs. Stars and cars particularly. In „Daddy’s Car“, a dreamy evening atmosphere of playing children and the speed of a car on a highway are set against the tremendous speed of the North Star. Did you plan certain leitmotivs?
Brian: (laughs) Cars and stars, that had been another nice title. But, no, I’ve just noticed it now you say it. But it’s certainly Karl’s subject matter. The kind of things he likes to write about. Ordinary things, things that you see in your life, people you hear on buses, a lot of the text comes from him listening to people having conversations in buses or shopping centers, and he just writes down what they’re saying. He got hundreds of those books. He just takes lines and fits them together, and sometimes I add something in or write some parts as well.

Part 2/4
Part 3/4
Part 4/4

Ein Tag nach der Rückkehr. In der Dusche Timber Timbre gehört, hypermelodische Songs von einem, der irgendwo zwischen den Tindersticks und Leonard Cohen zur ganzen eigenen Langsamkeit findet, melodisches Füllhorn inclusive. „Hot Dreams“. Später das Interview-, Ton- und Bildmaterial gesichtet. „Dishoom“ zum Beispiel, nahe Leicester Square.



A swish Bombay brasserie in the style of the old post-colonial ‚Irani cafés‘ of Bombay, Dishoom is filled with retro design features: whirring ceiling fans, low-level lighting and walls adorned with vintage Indian magazine advertising.

Manche Situationen waren dazu angetan, die klassische Klartraumübung zu machen: „Träum ich, oder wach ich“? Ein solcher Realitätscheck war zwingend erforderlich, als Brian Eno und Karl Hyde im Studio improvisierten, und sich einmal, dank Brians beeindruckend programmierter Drums und Karls Hydes Gitarrenspiel, ein Trance-Groove entwickelte. – Das klang, erzählte ich dem Duo, wie ein Stück, das Embryo nur zu gerne 1973 gespielt hätten! 

The look of Dishoom is certainly distinctive, but the effect can be so slick when compared to the real thing that the venue can feel rather soulless and corporate. This doesn’t stop the design-conscious and Indophile thronging here through the day, from breakfast (for sausage nan rolls with chilli jam) to dinner (for the stir-fries and tandoori grills).



The main attraction though is the menu, loosely styled on Irani café food with birianis, bhel (crunchy puffed rice with tangy tamarind chutney) and even pau bhaji (toasted white bread rolls with a spicy vegetable stew as a filling). Our black dal was exemplary, and the lamb biriani suitably moist. One of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been in!

Janek Schaefers grosse Nachtmusik, die CD „Lay-By Lullaby“ (am 12. April in den Klanghorizonten) brachte ich Brian mit. Janek sei einst einer seiner Schüler gewesen, erzählte er zum Nachmittagstee, und Janek habe einmal die Idee gehabt, ein Paket zu versenden: er habe ein Mikrofon und einen Rekorder darin verstaut, für genug Batterieladung gesorgt, und beides im Päckchen fixiert. Sodann seien alle Geräusche aufgezeichnet worden, die auf dieser Paketreise, sozusagen von einem „blinden, aber nicht tauben Passagier“ zu hören waren: Fabrikhallensounds, Dialoge zwischen Postboten und Kunden, Stadt, Land, Fluss, Lagerhallenstille, etc. Janek machte daraus eine Sound-Installation.

I particuarly like the endlessly refilled house chai (Indian-style tea), but the other drinks are interesting too – excellent lassi concoctions, even a soft  drink called Limca in glass bottles imported from Mumbai.



Karl Hyde erzählte mir, wie er bei den Aufnahmen zu „Someday World“ wieder Lust am Gitarrenspiel gefunden habe. Weil nämlich die Gitarren in Brians Studio alle auf sehr ungewöhnliche und witzige Weise gestimmt gewesen seien. Da sei man gar nicht auf die eigenen alten „patterns“ hereingefallen. Und gegen Schluss der Aufnahmen sei es einer Entdeckung, einem Abenteuer, gleichgekommen, dann wieder mal mit vertrauten „tunings“ zu spielen. Auf alten Gitarren.

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