The becalmed-ness of Eno’s ‘Another Green World’


Mike Powell on one of rock’s most beguiling albums:

Another Green World is not a happy record, nor is it sad. There are no demonstrations of personal triumph or failure, pain or elation, tension or release, desire or disappointment. The album’s most dazzling passage, the guitarist Robert Fripp’s solo on “St. Elmo’s Fire,” was made under Eno’s direction to replicate the display of a Wimshurst machine, a generator that creates lightning-like sparks that jump between two metal spheres. Set in the context of the song, a long walk between Eno and his companion “Brown Eyes,” the solo—electricity across the sky—becomes a point of shared beauty, something neither of them expected to see but that overtakes them both. This is the nature of Another Green World’s romance: Not what one person does or says for another, but the bond created between two people bearing witness to something bigger than both of them: Not love but wonder.

As someone who has frequently found themselves in states of deep peace only to have someone ask me if anything was wrong, Another Green World’s apparent neutrality has always been a lifeline to me. Of course, I don’t hear it as neutral—I hear it as ecstatically calm, an album that by some mysterious grace managed to climb just a few rungs higher on the tower and get a more sympathetic look at what it all means.

The way in which stasis becomes another way of moving — looking — inward is a concept that Eno honed to cold-breathed perfection on later albums like 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks and the 1984 Harold Budd collaboration The Pearl.

But discovering Another Green World was magic too: in the clearance bin of a Coconuts Music in summer ’93. The medium was the message: the hiss of that shitty tape — awful but reassuring — was inseparable from the rich, verdant, teeming mix itself.

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