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The release of a new vocal album of songs by Brian Eno — his first such solo “non-ambient” recording since 1977’s Before and After Science (I’m not including albums that mixed songs with instrumental pieces like 1997’s Nerve Net) — would be significant enough to post about on this film blog even if Eno wasn’t an artist whose work has been massively influential to filmmakers. But from the glam rock art songs of his that appeared on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack to instrumental pieces that have played significant roles in films like 28 Days Later and Heat to his video installations, that distill cinema down to the most basic elements of sound and light, Eno has been, alternately, a provocative pioneer and a watchful, influential observer to many of the key artistic moments of the late 20th century.

On June 13, Eno will release Another Day on Earth, a collection of new songs, six of which can be sampled by on the album’s new website, linked above. Typically, Eno’s latest endeavor is not just a collection of music but also an interrogation of the limits of an art from — in this case, the pop song — in today’s times. Says Eno, “”Song-writing is now actually the most difficult challenge in music. It’s very easy to make music now but lyrics are really the last very hard problem in music. What I think lyrics have to do is engage a certain part of your brain in a sort of search activity so your brain wants to say ‘here are some provocative clues as to what this song might be about.’ They don’t have to be explicit. In fact for me they certainly shouldn’t be explicit.”

The new album arrives amidst much new Eno activity, which can be tracked on the excellent Eno Web. Astralwerks has recently reissued remastered versions of most of his albums, he has been performing live gigs in Russia with the rai musician Rachid Taha, and novelist Jonathan Lethem recently used extensive quotations from his album Another Green World to provide closure to Fortress of Solitude. There’s even a web designer, Guy Drieghde D, who has developed an Oblique Strategies widget for Mac’s new Tiger OS. (Oblique Strategies, made by Eno and Peter Schmidt, are a group of cards, each with a off-center directive intended to jolt one out of a creative problem.)

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