recorded at Bob & Dan Lanois' studio|
- Hybrid [6:18]
- Distant Village [4:02]
- Mimosa [6:19]
- Pond life [3:40]
- Ocean Motion [5:49]
- Midday [5:59]
- Earth floor [4:49]
- Vacant [5:00]
Produced by Michael Brook, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois.
Michael Brook - Infinite-guitar, bass-guitar, percussion, Mbira, steel-guitar, synthesizers, buzz-bass, vibraphone
Daniel Lanois - percussion, treatments, bass-guitar
Brian Eno - treatments, piano, swamp percussion, synthesizers
Gordon Phillips - Northumbrian pipes on track 3, Cricket recording on track 4
Dick Smith - Conga drums on track 6 - percussion on track 7
The mid-'80s proved to be a prolific and exploratory time for the producer/performer team of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who this time out take guitarist Michael Brook under their ambient wing to create an album of considerable beauty and restraint.
Taking a "less is more" approach to the project, Brook adapts quite easily as a group member in co-creating these organic pieces (although composer credits go to him alone), and within a few minutes one forgets that he is a guitar player.
Hybrid is not an especially dynamic or exciting album, but its depth is nonetheless rewarding. There is substance within the shadows, and the musicians take the necessary time to properly explore them.
Highlights include the title cut, "Hybrid", which takes on the tone of a sleepy journey through underwater Morocco, plus "Pond Life", a barely audible meditation that is in its own right the strongest on the disc by simply trusting its atmosphere, assisted in no small part by visiting contributor Gordon Philips. In future recordings, Brook would prove to be a more energetic performer than Hybrid would suggest, but it's nice to have evidence that there is a zen master behind all the kung fu. For Eno and Lanois, it was only a year earlier that they delivered U2's groundbreaking album, The Unforgettable Fire (which is still considered a landmark recording for the band), so the Hybrid project probably seemed like a welcome sigh of relief for them.
As for this album in and of itself, it ends up being more respectable because of the people involved, rather than what was recorded.
Glenn Swan / All Music Guide
Michael Brook is a Canadian guitar innovator, film composer (including the recent Al Gore-global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth), and producer, though through all of these things he may be most recognized for his collaborative efforts and session work in support of other high-profile artists, most significantly Brian Eno. His "infinite guitar," involving the infinite sustain of notes on guitar, was used to great effect by The Edge on U2's "With or Without You" (produced by Eno). Brook also made an album with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Peter Gabriel's Real World record label, Night Song, which garnered a degree of attention.
Hybrid was Brook's first solo album, credited together with Eno and fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois. It strongly aligns with the "Fourth World" music that Eno and Jon Hassell, on whose albums Brook frequently figures, were making during this time in the early-mid 80s (e.g., Possible Musics and Dream Theory in Malaya).
Basically, it consists of pared-down, ambient instrumentals merging an old-world musical feel drawn from non-Western cultures with the new-world technology that was then state of the art for popular music.
Many tracks ("Hybrid", "Distant Village", "Earth Floor") are defined by hushed, softly flowing percussion and gentle village beats, conveying a soothing atmosphere like drifting along an African river.
At certain points, the melody of Brook's guitar might conjure images of a Qawwali vocalist intoning a Middle Eastern prayer ("Hybrid", "Midday"). My favorite pieces are the title track, "Distant Village", and "Midday".
The music is pretty sedate, and while this makes it the perfect stuff for nighttime pre-slumber, it will be of limited interest to those in search of more energetic fare. Apart from that caveat, this is worth checking out. Other reasonable reference points that are called to mind include Eno's Ambient 4: On Land (e.g., "Pond Life", which features cricket ambience), Peter Gabriel's Passion (e.g., the title track, "Ocean Motion"), side two of the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, and certain 1980s King Crimson tracks, such as "Sheltering Sky" from Discipline.
2004. Joe McGlinchey