After a fuss over a leak and then an official confirmation from Warp, Brian Eno has unveiled his next album, “Small Craft On a Milk Sea.”

The launch page reveals far more about the packaging than the actual music (though I must say, the packaging is very pretty). But the album does focus on collaboration, working with returning artists Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams. Hopkins and Eno have worked together regularly, and that trio produced some wonderful sounds, recording with Peter Chilvers, for the soundtrack for “The Lovely Bones.” Abrahams’ original mention on his Web diary also described some of what’s to come:

It contains the fruits of several years of jams between the three of us. I’ve not heard anything quite like it — it sounds ‘live’ and ‘alien’ at the same time. Some things have been permitted to survive, which only Brian would have had the courage to let go, and it’s so much the better for it.

(Via tinymixtapes, which also lends the live video of the trio below.

The release also comes wrapped in some evocative artworks by Eno himself, including the dune-like, oceanic long exposure image seen on the cover.

All in all, that seems there’s reason to look forward to the November 2 (November 15 UK) release date, as we get to hear the product of these three musical imaginations. Preorders, from digital to various collectors’ editions, start Wednesday of this week.


And these three artists live:

  • The album's called Small Craft on a Milk Sea, actually. And I think the cover image is a long-ish exposure of the wake of a — wait for it — small craft.

  • That's what happens when I type something pre-coffee.

    It's some kind of boat on some kind of sea. 😉

  • Ha! Same here. It's like I wake up with temporary dyslexia. I try not to send any email before I finish my first cup of tea.

  • seems to me this trend of "Premium Edition" seems to be erasing the gains of digital music being all bits, no atoms.

    seems like more and more things keep getting stuffed into these boxed sets now. I guess the ameliorating factor now is that (hopefully) these are very small runs. it just seems funny when a noted futurist, is building giant packaging for CDs at a time when the CD itself is not even required, and the memory of people protesting the ecological wastefulness of the old school shrinkwrapped CD longbox (far less egregious than this) has been erased in the collective amnesia of our culture like so many other gains in the right direction. I am interested in the music, but the packaging is not the future, its just an marketing upsell to me.

    I do like Eno though, so as long as there is a digital only version, I'm in. Hopefully with all the cool HQ file type options like Autechre Oversteps had. 🙂

  • Aaron

    Rant unwarrented. Digital distribution is primary while the limited editions are for fans or packaging/popart ethusiasts. The formfactor of album packaging is an artform that will never go away and will always be retained in a limited fashion.

  • Eric Ruud

    The boutique packaging "trend" is not that new… it's been in use for some time now as a way of monetizing "whales" – that is, the 1% at the top if the pyramid who are compelled to buy absolutely everything an artist makes. It's just become a bigger part of any business plan in recent years as that bottom 99% of the pyramid disappears.

    Bands like Coil have been making strange collector's editions for years:

  • Aaron

    Spiritualized has had some real gems over the past 15 years too..

  • Aaron
  • AnalHeadCase

    im down with pure sex packaging. Bring it on, the more the better. This looks hot but I doubt whats inside is as good.

    And the new Coil boxset is insane…so too all the SoiSong and HouseBoys Choir goodness. OT but Sleazy is the King!!!!

  • poopoo

    It's like they are just selling the packaging. There is no mention of the actual musical content of the album on that page. How many tracks are there? What sort of music is it?

    I really don't give a shit about "330gsm Somerset Radiant White stock" or "High quality 12" square lithographic print".

  • Alejandro Vukasovic

    @Aaron I will take my pill every 70 minutes.

  • To all of those who aren't into the packaging why not simply not buy it. I'm sure there'll be download versions on itunes or "pirate bay" around at some point.

    Let those who do want beautifully packaged CD's buy them!

  • rich

    @redvoid yes it says there will be digital downloads availible in 16 and 24 bit WAV from bleep as well as MP3/AAC from all the usual suspects. I'd agree with the options being cool if they didn't price them higher. Don't see why I should have to pay extra for them not to degrade files en route.

  • I do love beautiful packaging, I think the idea of getting an Eno print is meaningful (and more than packaging), but I do agree with some comments here. This has become something of a pattern with prominent pre-releases, that you do this extensive coverage of the box and less on the music inside. I think the quote from Leo Abrahams that started the original "leak" makes me more excited. So, I do hope artists/labels find a way to strike a balance. Obviously, you don't necessarily want to say everything about the record this far in advance of its release. But maybe you can say a bit more.

  • Kevin

    The special packaging/exorbitant pricing is necessary for the artist, Eno, to actually make a few coins from his…art. With the (illegal) unauthorized downloading that has become so rampant nowadays, it will take a few collectors paying top dollar to help offset the not-so-few thieves that think it's ok to steal the music simply because it is out there in the pirate land.

  • Damon

    I have to lose some weight before I can listen to this album.

  • This is really something I look forward to. I'm very tempted to go for the vinyl edition just for the extra tracks on the second CD, but I don't play vinyl… They should make the bonus track available separately.

  • JollyRogered

    I caught Eno, Abrahams et al on the recent Scenius tour, and can't wait to hear some of this material on disc.
    That said, it was definitely the sort of thing thats easier to appreciate live than on disc – Eno made it into a rather amusing retrospective 'lecture' from some some time in the future, about the state of music 'after the Great Pulse' that wiped all digital archives! There was even a lounge area on stage, where the musicians could go and sit and eat a banana, or boil a kettle when they weren't playing!
    I can understand the packaging thing from an artist like Eno; despite being much loved, and quoted as an influence by just about every artist under the sun, his music has never sold in huge bulk, so just as the performance was a big part of 'Pure Scenius' so is the packaging part of the album.
    I remember being gutted when I bought my copy of 'Before & After Science' all those years ago, because the Peter Schmidt prints were missing. The guy in the record shop told me they only came with the first 1000 off, but I never did believe him…

  • Absolutely — I have no problem with the packaging. The issue is that the advance press / pre-order promotion on music has sometimes over-emphasized the packaging. I'm sure people can find something to say about the music!

  • TJ

    Ever notice how a bum on the street can peddle crap art – whereas a CD that took a thousand hours to conceive & record gets walk-bys? I have.

    Packaging counts. My theory: people tend to spend experimentally on tangible things. "Oh, look!" Music takes time to hear, an object is instant. Cover art's a persona for an album; better still if it's one of a kind.

  • dman

    lol…i love eno and the new album…but not everything he does is entirely original.

    that cover which you say eno has done seems awfully similar to the Hiroshi Sugimoto artwork that his students (u2) used on their most recent album cover.

    sometimes i think Ryuichi Sakamoto is much better than Eno.