An exploration of the music and themes from the new Brian Eno album 'The Ship', forming a journey through modern history to explore the relationship between events present and past.
The viewer is invited to view this film and begin an internal discussion about how historical meaning is produced. Does the machine intelligence produce a point of view independent of its makers or its viewers? Or are we - human and machine - ultimately co-creating new and unexpected meanings?
Download both 'Fickle Sun (iii) I'm Set Free' and 'The Ship' (song) immediately with all format pre-orders from,
"The first time I ever heard [The Velvet Underground] was on a John Peel radio show..." - read more → it was when their first album came out and I thought, 'this I like, this I want to know about!' I was having a huge crisis at the time. Am I going to be a painter or am I somehow going to get into music. And I couldn't play anything so music was the less obvious choice. Then, when I heard The Velvet Underground I thought, 'you can do both actually.' It was a big moment for me.
That particular song always resonated with me but it took about 25 years before I thought about the lyrics. 'I'm set free, to find a new illusion'. Wow. That's saying we don't go from an illusion to reality (the western idea of 'finding the truth') but rather we go from one workable solution to another more workable solution.
Subsequently I think we aren't able and actually don't particularly care about the truth, whatever that might be. What we care about is having intellectual tools and inventions that work. [Yuval Noah Harari in his book 'Sapiens'] discusses that what makes large-scale human societies capable of cohering and co-operating is the stories they share together. Democracy is a story, religion is a story, money is a story. This chimed well with 'I'm set free to find a new illusion'. It seems to me what we don't need now is people that come out waving their hands and claiming they know the Right Way." - show less ←
The 21 minute piece is available to download with pre-orders of the album on CD, vinyl and digitally at,
"The piece started as an ambient work intended for a multi channel sound installation in Stockholm, but during the making of it I discovered that I could now sing a low C - which happens to be the root note of the piece. Getting older does have a few fringe benefits after all. From that point the work turned into an unusual kind of song... a type I've never made before where the vocal floats free, untethered to a rhythmic grid of any kind."
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"Humankind seems to teeter between hubris and paranoia: the hubris of our ever-growing power contrasts with the paranoia that we're permanently and increasingly under threat. At the zenith we realise we have to come down again... we know that we have more than we deserve or can defend, so we become nervous. Somebody, something is going to take it all from us: that is the dread of the wealthy. Paranoia leads to defensiveness, and we all end up in the trenches facing each other across the mud.
On a musical level, I wanted to make a record of songs that didn't rely on the normal underpinnings of rhythmic structure and chord progressions but which allowed voices to exist in their own space and time, like events in a landscape. I wanted to place sonic events in a free, open space.
One of the starting points was my fascination with the First World War, that extraordinary trans-cultural madness that arose out of a clash of hubris between empires. It followed immediately after the sinking of the Titanic, which to me is its analogue. The Titanic was the Unsinkable Ship, the apex of human technical power, set to be Man's greatest triumph over nature. The First World War was the war of materiel, 'over by Christmas', set to be the triumph of Will and Steel over humanity. The catastrophic failure of each set the stage for a century of dramatic experiments with the relationships between humans and the worlds they make for themselves.
I was thinking of those vast dun Belgian fields where the First World War was agonisingly ground out; and the vast deep ocean where the Titanic sank; and how little difference all that human hope and disappointment made to it. They persist and we pass in a cloud of chatter.
Written in the late sixties, Lou Reed's song 'I'm Set Free' seems even more relevant now than it did then. Perhaps anybody who's read Yuval Noah Harari's 'Sapiens' will recognise the quiet irony of "I'm set free to find a new illusion"... and its implication that when we step out of our story we don't step into 'the truth' - whatever that might be - but into another story.
This album is a succession of interleaved stories. Some of them I know, some of them I'm discovering now in the making of them.
Wave. After. Wave. After. Wave."