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Brian Eno & Karl Hyde

High Life (Warp)

Reviewed by Neph Basedow, Fri., Aug. 22, 2014

Phases & Stages

Brian Eno & Karl Hyde

High Life (Warp)

On this second joint release in four months, studio sage Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde produce something otherworldly. Though the onetime Roxy Music synthesist remains lauded for production of U2, Coldplay, and Talking Heads, Eno's solo style defines eccentric, and the ambient godfather's aesthetic imprint weighs heavily on High Life. Clearly intended more for its makers' personal benefit than mass appeal, the LP's brazen from the get-go. Opener "Return" clocks in at a confident nine minutes, the intensely unhurried drone build-up merely part of the album's grander picture. As soon as its long-winded ascent begins pushing the boundaries of patience, the Brits' sporadic inclusion of vocals – a feature not always incorporated in the pair's otherwise instrumental-heavy electronica – and Afro-pop guitar funk kick in ("DBF"). Uniquely imaginative, the duo's efforts will seduce like-minded forward-thinkers, but High Life will be too ostensibly weird to be widely digested. That's precisely what makes offbeat innovators like Eno and Hyde cult heroes.

***

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