How is Brian Eno not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet? His absence renders the entire institution a joke. Much of rock over the last three decades wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for this guy. He helped create glam in Roxy Music and a string of superb solo albums, such as 1977’s Before and After Science. Then he gave birth to ambient music with albums such as Music for Airports (1978). And he’s produced other bands’ landmark albums: Bowie’s Low (1977), Talking Heads’ Remain in Light (1980), U2’s The Joshua Tree (1987).
Since this dossier presents Eno as quite the well-rounded genius, it should come as no surprise that music hasn’t been the only art form he’s dabbled in. The DVD 14 Video Paintings consists of two film-installation pieces accompanied by original music, all of which was created by Eno in the 1980s.
The first of the two is Thursday Afternoon, seven scenes of Eno’s friend Christine Alicino in various nude poses. Put it on at a party as a great starter of the age-old debate over what really constitutes art. It’s not for nothing that Eno depicts a female nude, one of, if not the, oldest inspirations for paintings. And the overall feel of Thursday Afternoon really is similar to the effect on the eye of an impressionistic canvass. Alicino’s movements are so slowed down, so slight they become hypnotic. The music, dominated by a throttling bass line, hums and blips in the background. Simple, yes, but not without enormous influence on current bands such as Air, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Kinski.
Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan takes on another classic portrait theme: the cityscape. It’s divided into chapters that take the viewer through a day. “Dawn” starts with music again dominated by its low end, but it’s more ominous than the bubbly soundtrack to Thursday Afternoon. By the third chapter, “Towers,” both the music and the scenery has gotten prettier, almost cubist. “Lafayette” brings things to a disappointing close, with its silly water-dripping sound effects.
14 Video Paintings is a must for Eno cultists, but its appeal shouldn’t end there. Again, it would be perfect to put on in the background of a shindig, to give guests aural pleasure but also something fun, something always slightly shifting, similar to landscape scenes in Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves, to glance at every now and then.
Brian Eno Web site