Listening to a Brian Eno album, especially an ambient one like Small Craft On A Milk Sea, is like being taken on a tour of an alien world – Enoworld. As such, opener ‘Emerald and Lime’ gives a bird’s eye view of the landscape below before we delve right in from the next track on. The swirling and sparse ‘Complex Heaven’ takes us on a tour of the eerie caverns, whilst the driving kraut-rock of ‘2 Forms of Anger’ gives us a good look at the crashing oceans and the beat-heavy ‘Dust Shuffle’ takes us over the sparse plains and deserts. It all has a groove, a melody but also an edge that keeps you on your toes, much like something Eno’s Warp label mate Aphex Twin might create.
The inhospitable first half gives way to a lusher, softer closing half. ‘Slow Ice, Old Moon’ fully realises the arctic tundra of Enoworld; simultaneously serene and sinister, but the electronic blips of ‘Lesser Heaven’ come to swoop us away and give us a beautiful view of the cosmos. From the gusty peaks of ‘Calcium Needles’ we get a phenomenal view of the peaceful side of Enoworld, which is shown to us in further detail on the piano ballad ‘Emerald and Stone’. In fact by the end of Small Craft On A Milk Sea you start to feel wonderfully at home in this new environment, which makes it hard to accept when ‘Invisible’ comes and sucks us back out of our new lives and we re-emerge into our former selves as the album ends with birds chirping and we remember the world we used to call home.