On his 2020 debut release with Deutsche Grammophon, Mixing Colours, Roger Eno was accompanied by his brother Brian Eno. After great success, including an NPR Tiny Desk appearance with The Turning Year (2022), Eno gifts us with the truly luminous The Skies, they shift like chords… On this album, one is presented with a meticulously crafted sonic universe that extends upon the ethereal beauty of his 2022 release, The Turning Year. Whilst his previous album explored the clarity of piano and strings, this new offering delves into an even more celestial realm, incorporating a rich tapestry of sounds, including guitar, clarinet, bass clarinet, electronics, and more.
The journey begins with “Chordal Drift,” a track that gently tiptoes between chords, allowing chordal centres and tonalities to unfurl and retract like blossoming flowers—an enchanting prelude to the atmospheric adventure that lies ahead. “Tidescape” introduces us to Jon Goddard’s sparse electric guitar, accompanied by a steadfast flute organ drone. Bass clarinet, clarinet, and other instruments drift in and out of the composition like celestial debris. The interplanetary voyage then envelops us in the reverberating embrace of Eno’s iconic solo piano on “That Which is Hidden,” introducing moments of unexpected dissonance that invite contemplation.
Throughout the album, introspective pauses are strategically placed, providing listeners with moments to reflect, ponder, and even shed a tear.
Roger Eno himself acknowledges the importance of these silent pauses, saying, “There are lots of gaps, silent pauses, throughout the album, which are a really important part of it. When a track finishes, you’re still ‘there’ in the music, and unless the next one comes in at just the right moment, something’s going to jangle with either or both of them. The composing part is only one part of the process—these other, constructive details are very important.”
Roger Eno - the skies, they shift like chords (Full interview)Deutsche Grammophon - DG I Stories
Throughout the album, Eno seamlessly interweaves his solo piano performances with atmospheric compositions reminiscent of his film score work, as evidenced in tracks like “Where Does This Lead Us?” and “Japanese Rain Garden.” The piano serves as a constant presence, infusing the entire album with moments of strength, beauty, clarity, and serenity. As Eno himself notes, “There always has to be something strong or utterly beautiful, otherwise there’s the danger that it becomes like lift music…”
Rest assured, The Skies, they shift like chords… is anything but elevator music, unless, of course, you decide to hit the emergency stop button and immerse yourself in its meditative depths for the next 45 minutes. This album is an interdimensional journey meant to be savoured and contemplated. Roger Eno, a master of evoking emotion through music, captures a multitude of moments within each composition, breathing life into the individual listening experience. The hallmark of a master artist.