You are reading the older HTML site

Positive Feedback ISSUE 74
july/august 2014


Eno & Hyde, High Life
by Michael Mercer


Eno & Hyde, High Life

Eno & Hyde have never missed as far as I'm concerned. That's a true rarity. Actually, I can't think of any other cooperative artists projects that have been consistent in holding my attention on every record like these gents have. Every studio album of theirs I've discovered, even a few live bits are all something I can always toss on, no matter what the situation. There never seems to be a bad time for Eno & Hyde in my headphones. I drop the needle (via vinyl or 44.1kHz/24-bit in this instance) on records like High Life because sometimes one of their unique grooves or sounds just gets stuck in my brain, and I gotta hear it. Ever get that? I'm not sure if that's a generational thing. I was a kid of the eighties, a "Smells Like Teen Spirit"-ized GenXer by the time I was in high school. But I'm also a big fan of Brian Eno. Admittedly, I didn't know much about Hyde, and still don't! I just know they make magnificent music together that manifests a rhythmic jumble of many genres/classifications: all bopping and weaving in and out of themselves. It's all finely-crafted and contemporary; from their electro-pop to their crazy disco-infused beats that bump into everything from Latin-style hooks and Marc Ribot-like rifts that come out of nowhere, and just go on. High Life is a soundtrack to itself. Because, either you can be high and enjoy the hell out of it, or you can be as sober as your mamma's designated driver and still be touched by it.

By the time I got to "Time To Waste It" (track 3) the grooves brought things down in preparation for these soulful, tribal vocals that came in and lifted the mood. They sat back in the rhythm, infecting me with a bad case of the head-bobs. The build-up from there was layered with these ascending guitars that laid the foundation for these chant-type vibes. The build-ups in the tracks, instrumentals that felt like they could've been at home on The Who's Tommy, or anything modern! I responded to it with this constant sway about me, the music was also constantly in-motion, taking the sound through these short diversions (differing vibes created by the variety of the music as a whole, rather than a specific note change they made). It felt mellow and energetic enough to be played during a dinner party, or at the peak hour... That's also a rare quality in a record today. It took me back to the time when dance records were just starting to be pressed in higher quality. There's air in this record, amongst all the layering of guitars and drums, the consistent up-beat keys and funked out goodness of "Moulded Life". It's all infectious. This record is a real pleasure to experience. The sounds just washed over me, the mix was so interestingly layered. There was, as I've mentioned, a great feeling of three-dimensionality, because of their subtle use of space between the sounds and instruments. 

High Life is two parts jam record, the other tracks sound like something you'd hear a live band perform at an underground warehouse party. I used the word ascendant earlier in this piece, describing the soaring guitar work, and that is a strong musical pillar that holds this record up—keeps its energy, its momentum going. Though at one point Eno & Hyde tell us to "slow down, sit down and breathe" they maintain forward progression throughout the entire LP. They're seasoned music composers, who, to my ear, use their music to bring some light into this mostly dark digital world. I'm not saying every moment on the record is a stellar sonic experience - but the vastness of the sound in High Life is sublime. It's like a dash of shoe-gaze with old school progressive indie rock. Every now and then I find myself humming along to this anthemic music. This may sound nuts, but High Life feels like it was recorded to bring the listener into the band's creative process while making a record! It's like they're trying new things and the engineer hit Record at the perfect moment. The tracks are so varied and manage to keep a thematic rhythm that's gotta hit ya in the gut if you want to get this record. Crank it up.

It's been the perfect sonic accompaniment while workin' through tough projects this week, and also on a couple of walks; where I took took High Life in 44.1kHz/24-bit via my Glove Audio (new line under CEntrance) A1 DAC/amp for Astell&Kern AK120 & 100 players!

The unit will be out in a couple months. It was incredible—listening to High Life on this system with Double Helix Silver Peptide balanced cable and my Audeze LCD-XCs (their closed-back planar magnetics w/ Fazor technology).

Getting out, appreciating Eno & Hyde's future electro-rhythm & blues, their wavy reggae/ska sway at times that maintains the musical energy, while being outside in the Northern California sun was spectacular. Eno & Hyde bring the funk, the stripped-down soulful goodness, grab this LP and get a piece...