Unboxing ‘The Ship’

It came as something of a shock to me to find that Brian Eno had put out a new record back in January, but I had heard nothing about it… So I jumped on a nice vinyl copy (with downloads).


The vinyl copy comes with prints of four digital paintings, and with the download codes you can pull down FLAC or WAV files, so it’s really teh best of both worlds, and the prints just add to it.

The music on The Ship is part ambient, part pop, and thoroughly Eno. Pitchfork has a nice review of it that does a better job than I can, so maybe go and read it… In brief, the album is made up of four tracks: The ShipFickle Sun (i)Fickle Sun (ii) The Hour Is Thin, and Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free. The last track is, of course, a cover of The Velvet Underground, and it’s near perfect. I’d post it here, but it looks like I can only stick one video in a post or that Warp Records decided not to enable sharing, so click it now.

Eno has a good discussion of the record on his website, and it’s worth quoting at length…

…teeter between hubris and paranoia: the hubris of our ever-growing power contrasts with the paranoia that we’re permanently and increasingly under threat. At the zenith we realise we have to come down again… we know that we have more than we deserve or can defend, so we become nervous. …

On a musical level, I wanted to make a record of songs that didn’t rely on the normal underpinnings of rhythmic structure and chord progressions but which allowed voices to exist in their own space and time, like events in a landscape.

I was thinking of those vast dun Belgian fields where the First World War was agonisingly ground out; and the vast deep ocean where the Titanic sank; and how little difference all that human hope and disappointment made to it. They persist and we pass in a cloud of chatter.

If you’re anything of an Eno fan like me, The Ship is his best record in years, and it was worth the wait, and the slog through some of that stuff in the early 2000s and 2010s that I really didn’t get.

It’s available through all the usual download channels, and there are some vinyl pieces and CDs available too. It’s worth it.

  • Concept: I’m not sure that Eno succeeded in avoiding rhythmic structure or chord progressions any more than he did in Discrete Music, say, but the exploration of the hubris/paranoia dynamic and ultimate impotence really comes through. Great.
  • Content: 45+ minutes of new ambient Eno, plus that great “I’m Set Free” cover? Excellent.
  • Design: gatefold double LP, well printed and manufactured, with art prints? Beautiful.

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