Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Vinyl LP, Album, Gatefold, U.S., 1974
The beauty of a classic Eno album are its textures. Here Come The Warm Jets has great sonic touches that one can listen to it again and again, and still discover new things to hear in it. Taking Tiger Mountain has the same quality, but it is very much a different type of album than the first Eno release. In an odd way this album is sort of like a travel journal, where lyrically it hits areas (Asia?) of the world, but it is very much done in an abstract way, where you are not really that sure where this album is placed in the world. Theme wise it reminds me of David Bowie’s Lodger of a foreigner going to a new land, mostly to escape from one’s own culture. There are ambient sounds here, but instead of being in the background, it is way out front and it is like a strong beat. I think of crickets used as a percussion instrument in “The Great Pretender.”
I remember my friend Gary Friedlander buying this album at the same time I bought it when it was first released. We rushed to his house to listen to it, and I think we must have played it at least four times. Right away it stuck me as a classic album. The graphics are great, and the guitar work from Phil Manzanera is simply fantastic. There should be a death sentence for those who don’t think Manzanera is one of the greats on that instrument. His mixture of prog sensibilities with surf aesthetic is a unique one in the world of music. There is not a bad or weak cut on this album. The band Japan in their masterful Tin Drum record has taken a lot from this album and used the material in a more straight ahead fashion. Also the Feelies first album has traces of Taking Tiger Mountain as well. A true classic.