Eno & Hyde High Life Warp Records
When ambient master Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde began collaborating on their recent debut Someday World, there’s no doubt they were headed toward some intriguing spaces. While some criticised said debut for its ‘sketchy overindulgence’, it set a momentum that they found hard to resist. Having finished the album, they decided to carry on recording instead of embarking on the ubiquitous tour and promotion procedure. They began what became High Life: a far more abstract beast than the pop-brushed debut.
The chiming guitars of opening track Return are a surprising beginning for two people whose careers are so embroiled with the synthesizer. Rather than two guys with keyboards, this has the feel of a full band enjoying experimenting with new sonic territories. Hypnotically building on melodies throughout the nine-minutes, Eno’s soft and delicate vocals are the centre at which the instrumentation revolves. Winding upwards through your spine, this is music to make you tingle. It’s a strong opener.
Hyde’s schizoid guitar runs rings round the snare heavy drums on DBF in a choppy, frenetic number with an organ heavy ending that becomes one of our favourite moments. It feels fresh and modern while still sounding like it was lifted from a 70s exploitation movie. While Time To Waste It is a warm reggae-tinged smolder with pitched up vocals bounding out of the speakers, Moulded Life performs techno tricks before your very ears, squelching as much out of each glitchy beat and fluttering tone.
But it is closing number Cells & Bells that shows off the intelligence and subtlety that lies behind this project; a beautifully mellow and introspective meditation that leaves you itching to revisit it time and time again. High Life surpasses expectations and substantially outshines their debut, proving they were right to persevere in the studio. Hopefully it will cement a relationship between the two electronic giants for years to come.