Sunday, February 19, 2023

Eno / Wobble | Spinner

Eno / Wobble
London, UK: All Saints, 2020
12" vinyl LP, 51:00
Edition size unknown

I found this record on vinyl last week at a mall in Moncton, of all places. Originally released in 1995, the disk was reissued in 2020, to celebrate its 25th anniversary. 

It is the first and only collaboration between composer, artist and producer Brian Eno and bass player Jah Wobble. Wobble first came to prominence when he cofounded Public Image Limited with John Lydon, over their shared love of reggae and international music. He was summarily fired from the band after two albums, for using PIL backing tracks in his solo work. 

He was infamously working as a ticket collector for the London subway system in 1991, when he mounted his comeback with the band Invaders of the Heart, featuring vocals by Sinéad O'Connor (Wobble had previously played bass on "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance", from O'Connor's breakthrough album from the year prior). Other collaborations include Björk, Holger Czukay, Bill Laswell, Baaba Maal, Massive Attack, Adrian Sherwood, and many others. 

Spinner is a mixed bag at best, but it represents a kind of collaborative ideal for me. Apparently Brian Eno handed over some tracks intended for a Derek Jarman soundtrack to PIL bassist Jah Wobble and told him to do as he wished with them. Wobble then played alongside a third of the tracks, gutted and transformed a third, and left the final third more or less as is. 

It reminds me of John Lennon’s contribution to the Beatles’ song "Hey Jude". McCartney presented it nearly finished and told Lennon that the line “the movement you need is on your shoulders” was a stand-in. Lennon told him not to change a thing, and that the song was perfect as is. 

The Spinner reissue includes a printed inner sleeve with notes from both artists, and a download card for the full album plus two bonus tracks ("Stravinsky" and "Lockdown"). 

"This music originated as a soundtrack for Derek Jarman's last film Glitterbug, which was released shortly after his death in 1994. He never saw it finished. 

I made most of the music in my studio in Kilburn, working directly onto digital stereo, alone at night. I hardly watched the film, which, being made up of pieces of Super-8 footage shot by Derek over the twenty years between the late sixties and late eighties, became more and more poignant as his life drew to its close. 

I had intended to collect the music as a soundtrack record, but in the end a lot of it didn't make much sense without the film. So I cut that connection and placed myself instead in the hands of Jah. He received from me a number of stereo tapes and did what he does - spanning the gamut from leaving them completely alone (such as 'Garden Recalled'), playing along (such as 'Like Organza'), or using them as atmospheres for entirely new compositions (such as 'Steam'). 

He told me that after he finished working on this, he walked along the Grand Union Canal from Bethnal Green and up through the Lea Valley listening on headphones. He assures me that the music proved a very satisfactory companion, which opinion I pass on for any others considering the same walk."
- Brian Eno, 1995

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