REVIEW: Brian Eno: Another Green World

Produced for television by Arena BBC and directed by Nicola Roberts, Brian Eno: Another Green World offers an insight into one of the most prominent figures of the music industry. From his playing days as keyboardist with Roxy Music, Eno’s long list of collaborations reads like a roll call of pop royalty: David Bowie, David Byrne, U2, Devo, Coldplay, Paul Simon, Toto and Talking Heads (amongst many others). No wonder then that Bono attributes the success of bands like U2 to Eno’s influence: “We didn’t go to art school, we went to Brian”.

Describing Eno as the ‘intellectual guru of rock’, Roberts’ short documentary situates him as an introspective figure whose love of music was founded on the experience it provided: a “state of surrender”. Interwoven with imagery of the natural world, Eno recalls how, as a youngster attending church, the combination of the sounds and voices (rather than the religious motifs) granted him a sense “of something bigger”.

While Another Green World’s emphasis on nature and transcendence initially casts Eno within a new-age sensibility, it soon becomes apparent that the musician is far more passionate about the relationship between technology and individuals. In a revealing discussion, Eno describes his fascination with a Player Piano he inherited, primarily because of the seeming emotions that were being produced by a machine. This he contrasts with the influence of technology upon contemporary music, and the increasing homogenisation of performance. For Eno, the distinctly human (and uniquely flawed) element of music is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Negotiating the broad philosophical interests that Eno explores in and through his music and collaborations, the documentary also offers a glimpse of his involvement with figures such as Richard Dawkins and Stafford Beer together with a variety of other musicians. Drawing on his discussions of history, literature, future and management theory, and the relationship between art, science and religion, Eno comes off as an intensely thoughtful and engaging subject.

Less an in-depth biographical portrait or chronological investigation of his work than it is a revealing snapshot, Brian Eno: Another Green World is rewarding viewing nonetheless, even if feels an all-too-brief encounter.


Brian Eno: Another Green World is screening at ACMI cinemas in Melbourne from April 1st until the 4th.

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