Eno, Moebius & Roedelius After The Heat

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Styles: ambient, kosmische
Others: {Another Green World}, {Before and After Science}, {Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror}

The second collaboration between Brian Eno and Cluster (here credited as constituents Hans Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius) arrived only a year after the trio’s first collaboration, Cluster & Eno. By the time of their first meeting, Eno had released his first proper ambient album, Discreet Music, as well as a handful of pioneering pop records. Cluster had steadily moved away from the free-form ambient style marking their debut, Cluster ’71, to the slowly shifting, pulsating krautrock on landmark releases Zuckerzeit and Musik Von Harmonia (with Neu!’s Michael Rother). After hearing these releases, Brian Eno was eager to collaborate with Moebius and Roedelius.

Although krautrock legend Conny Plank co-produced After The Heat with the artists, Eno seems to have had the biggest impact on its creation. Even more so than its predecessor, the album essentially sounds like a Brian Eno solo record. Considering the personnel order, the prevalent atmospheres and textures, and even the almost entirely English tracklist (compared to the mostly German Cluster & Eno), it’s hard to imagine Moebius and Roedelius adding much to the proceedings. There are hints of motorik repetition in the static bass lines of “Oil” and the pulsing piano of “Tzima N’ark” (a track featuring fellow krautrock luminary and Can bassist Holger Czukay), but Eno’s ideas most often take the spotlight.

The evidence abounds. The lush synths of “Old Land” recall Another Green World, and the bass line's major fourths and fifths in “Foreign Affairs” seem due in part to Eno’s obsession with tribal and “world” music, materializing in more realized form in his first collaboration with David Byrne. “The Belldog” also sounds like another Eno solo track, while “T’Zima N’ark” even includes a reversed vocal track from Before and After Science. More than anything else, though, Eno's vocals on After the Heat’s final three tracks cement his lasting mark on the album.

Although certainly progressive at its time, some unfortunate sonic choices -- the artificial wind sound and synthesized strings of “Base & Apex” -- betray After the Heat's era, making it sound rather dated. It’s an album worth investigating, though, as it shows Eno at a transitional point in his musical career. References to the past abound, but there are several hints at future endeavors (“The Shade,” in particular, sounds similar to the successive Ambient 2, a collaboration with pianist Harold Budd). While Heat is a solid entry in Eno’s expansive catalogue, it’s surprising these three innovators didn’t challenge each other more.

1. Oil
2. Foreign Affairs
3. Luftschloß
4. The Shade
5. Old Land
6. Base & Apex
7. Light Arms
8. Broken Head
9. The Belldog
10. Tzima N'arki

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