Two pop legends succeed at being themselves musically, and even seem to sort of get the hang of that whole “internets” thingy, with lots of barnyard puppet sex and nocturnal urban hillbilly parkour. And the Dick Flash interview with Eno.
I have some compassion for the Thomas Dolby and Brian Eno fanboys of the world today. In fact, I might have to confess (as I did back in May with He Blinded Me With Silence) to being one of them. Both artists were a major influence on my early songwriting and recording work, and coincidentally, both announced special releases today. Brian Eno, with his “Seven Sessions On A Milk Sea”, and Dolby with “Oceanea”. Eno’s release is actually a series of videos of live sessions playing music from his release “Small Craft On A Milk Sea” (available for download on iTunes or as vinyl, CD, or download on Amazon). Dolby’s release is the second of three EP’s to be rolled out before his 2011 release A Map Of The Floating City, and is only available by going to his site and registering. So what’s a media overloaded pop sycophant to do? Well, download everything of course, and worry about grocery money later! I must confess that as much as I respect both artists, I find Eno’s marketing methods a little off-putting compared to Dolby’s. For me it’s interesting to be in the position of watching pop legends whose musical accomplishments I once aspired to duplicate now attempting to market their material in a rapidly evolving environment that I’m confident I understand better than they do. I’m quite happy with music they’re both producing; Dolby has shown that he still has some of that pop-smart Thomas Dolby-ness in him; his first two EP’s – “Amerikana” and “Oceanea” – reflect his quirky, catchy pop and sonically somber reflective sides respectively. And Eno has managed to imbue Small Craft On A Milk Sea with a nice balance of various aspects of the familiar Eno palette in a way that should please lifelong Enophiles like myself. But I have to tip my hat a bit to Dolby on the marketing. Ever since the announcement of Eno’s first release in five years, tidbits have been released exclusively here and there. I would receive e-mails announcing some news about the release, and as even this exclusive Wired piece points out – arrive at a page that didn’t even have a preview snippet. And while today’s announcement of Seven Sessions On A Milk Sea was originally intriguing, Eno’s site sends you to seven different other sites (including the Guardian and the New York Times, for instance) to watch a video of three guys bent over their gear “jamming”. And then you find that the embedded videos themselves are “Private” Vimeo clips that aren’t shareable. Way to use the video sharing service, marketing people! Dolby, on the other hand, announced a free song download early on, and then announced the two EP’s at a discounted price to subscribers with a painless payment and download process. And any videos he’s sharing are all on YouTube, and readily embeddable. I snagged all three Dolby releases right away, but in spite of originally being anxious to pick up Eno’s release, forgot all about it until another artist I admire (Christen Lien) mentioned it on Facebook and with a facepalm and a “DOH!” I finally bought it. Both artists are releasing a lot of “making of” clips; Dolby’s can be found on his YouTube page if you’re interested. Me, I’m more interested in the music or the music videos themselves. I”m pretty partial to Dolby’s “Toad Lickers”, featured below. Although he talks in the Toad Lickers Dissected video about how it was inspired by the toad smoking research of anthropologist Wade Davis in his book Shadows in the Sun, I personally hear it as a tale of deluded tea party rednecks taking over America. Clip below, but we don’t recommend watching it if you’re disturbed by barnyard puppet animal sex or nocturnal urban hillbilly parkour.
You don’t usually think of Thomas Dolby as a jaw harpist, and in fact the actual track was played by Imogen Heap:
Brian Eno as “Dick Flash” interviews Brian Eno as Brian Eno:
In spite of being a bit harsh about Eno’s marketing, I would kill to get my hands on the sold out Collector’s Edition: