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Alternative & Indie - Released June 1, 1992 | 4AD

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Pop - Released January 1, 1985 | One Up

The mid-'80s proved to be a prolific and exploratory time for the producer/performer team of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who this time out take guitarist Michael Brook under their ambient wing to create an album of considerable beauty and restraint. Taking a "less is more" approach to the project, Brook adapts quite easily as a group member in co-creating these organic pieces (although composer credits go to him alone), and within a few minutes one forgets that he is a guitar player. Hybrid is not an especially dynamic or exciting album, but its depth is nonetheless rewarding. There is substance within the shadows, and the musicians take the necessary time to properly explore them. Highlights include the title cut, "Hybrid," which takes on the tone of a sleepy journey through underwater Morocco, plus "Pond Life," a barely audible meditation that is in its own right the strongest on the disc by simply trusting its atmosphere, assisted in no small part by visiting contributor Gordon Philips. In future recordings, Brook would prove to be a more energetic performer than Hybrid would suggest, but it's nice to have evidence that there is a zen master behind all the kung fu. For Eno and Lanois, it was only a year earlier that they delivered U2's groundbreaking album, The Unforgettable Fire (which is still considered a landmark recording for the band), so the Hybrid project probably seemed like a welcome sigh of relief for them. As for this album in and of itself, it ends up being more respectable because of the people involved, rather than what was recorded. © Glenn Swan /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 28, 1997 | 4AD

Translating Brook's evocative guitar art into soundtrack music for a Kevin Spacey-directed neo-noir thriller might seem an unusual choice. However, his work here turns into an interesting blend of his own style and smoky late night jazz and darker, moodier incidental guitar, interspersed with a variety of other instrumental touches. One of his sharpest moves lies in the mixing of performers he brings to the effort. Besides stand-up bass and sax, the ney, udu, and srinivas guitar figure into the rotating lineup of instruments he and his various collaborators tackle. Brook himself also plays keyboard on nearly all the tracks, as well as handling a good amount of the bass and drum programming. Given the project's origins, it's striking if not totally surprising that most of the pieces hold up as well on their own as do Brook's separate efforts. "Albo Gator" underscores the collaborative nature of the project, with some of Christian Forte's lines from the movie played over the gentle chime of the piece, provided in large part by Jason Lewis' tuned percussion. "Preparation" alone is worth the investigating, one of Brook's serene guitar drones and gentle performances, leading into a Morricone-western melody echoing into the distance. Hints of the intense plucking and drive that he brings to many of his pieces bubble under the mix in contrast. "Arrival" starts the album and sets the tone for both film and disc wonderfully, merest hints of Brook's trademark style coming through as a four-performer setup conjures up ghosts of legendary past jazz-noir scores. "Miscalculation" is a more upbeat if no less mood-setting effort, Hafez Modirzadeh's short sax tones and Lewis' quick work on tabla and tom-drum setting the tone. A fine, unexpected touch comes with the final track, a cover of the old Harold Arlen number "Ill Wind," with Jimmy Scott and Michael Stipe on vocals and Flea on bass. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released December 18, 2007 | Lakeshore Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 21, 2015 | Lakeshore Records

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Ambient - Released July 25, 2006 | Canadian Rational

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Film Soundtracks - Released November 6, 2015 | Lakeshore Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 29, 1992 | 4AD

Having an album release party in the London Zoo's Aquarium, where the emphasis would no doubt be on stillness, hush and the haunting beauty of the deep, just suits most 4AD label releases to begin with. Given that Brook is known for his mysterious, spare guitar work makes this record of the solo concert he gave there upon the appearance of Cobalt Blue all that more appropriate. Reproducing much of the content of that album but in a different running order, Aquarium consists solely of Brook, his guitar and preset synth/rhythm patterns. The result is quite fascinating; whether a listener thinks that the more stripped-down overall sound of the songs here works better as a result or prefers the generally lusher textures of the studio release must ultimately be up to individual judgment. What is beyond question is the skill Brook uses on his instrument, which, thankfully, never transforms into pointless showing off. Those used to his 'infinite guitar' sounds thanks to the likes of U2 might well be surprised at the understated serenity of the performance. Even the most specifically Edge-sounding number, "Ultramarine," sounds more like a calm run-through of one of the Irish musician's pieces instead of a full-on rock-out. The medley of "After Image/Urbana" is an excellent all-around showcase. The first song consists of low E-bow-tinged guitar lines, quite relaxed and soothing all around, while the second is initially all down to just soft strums and a buried rhythm loop. When the song's main melody begins, Brook's performance is at once heartwrenching and soaring, then further supplemented by the increased rhythm punch from his keyboard set-up. If one standout has to be selected, the majestic version of "Lakbossa" is the clear winner. Brook's utterly compelling work is simply jawdropping, tender and as big as all outdoors at once. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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New Age - Released January 27, 2011 | Michael Brook

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Film Soundtracks - Released September 18, 2012 | Lions Gate Records

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Ambient - Released October 23, 2007 | Canadian Rational

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 18, 2016 | Lakeshore Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released November 20, 2020 | Lakeshore Records

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New Age - Released January 1, 2011 | Michael Brook

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New Age - Released January 28, 2011 | Michael Brook

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Ambient - Released September 26, 2006 | Canadian Rational

Guitarist/composer/Real World fusionist Michael Brook's soundtrack for Al Gore's environmental doomsday documentary An Inconvenient Truth relies heavily on the eclectic artist's gifts for atmosphere. Brook's serpentine soundscapes echo Daniel Lanois' work on Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade, relying on distinctly American-sounding motifs that illuminate Gore's rural upbringing while maintaining the feel of the ominous smokestack that graces the album's cover. It's like Aaron Copland filtered through one of Bill Frisell's mid-'90s studio sessions, and while it doesn't make for a particularly riveting listen, it does capture the film's weight. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released September 22, 2017 | Lakeshore Records

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New Age - Released January 1, 2011 | Michael Brook

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New Age - Released January 1, 2011 | Michael Brook

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 15, 2019 | Lakeshore Records

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