(Canadian Rational/bigHelium, 2007)
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Michael Brook’s first solo album was the summation of two years spent composing and recording in the mid-’80s. Hybrid materialized during a busy time in Michael’s life, one of transition and redirection. While still administering the artist-access studio Charles St. Video in his native Toronto, Michael helped Brian Eno prepare a series of environmental video-based installations, which the two subsequently installed in art museums around the world. Messrs.Brook & Eno would, on occasion, play in tandem with the video shows. In return for Michael’s technological expertise, Brian offered to help with the solo recordings that would yield Hybrid.
Sessions begun in Michael’s basement 8-track studio (The Crypt, located in Toronto’s Chinatown) migrated to 24-tracks within Daniel Lanois’ Grant Avenue facility in nearby Hamilton. Michael was well familiar with the Lanois studio, having recorded there previously with Jon Hassell, as well as for the sessions that produced Eno’s On Land. Lanois also ended up playing on Hybrid.
Michael recalls the Hybrid sessions as a ‘thrilling time that involved much banging of my head against the wall,’ this being his first attempt at working in a proper studio, ‘having access to the sort of signal processing that people now have in their Palm Pilots.’ It was also the premier manifestation of what would become Michael’s sonic thumbprint: spiraling, Indian-inflected melodies articulated by his invention, the Infinite Guitar.
Michael played only one live date in immediate support of Hybrid, a U.K. concert at the Riverside Theatre, co-billed with Roger Eno. The show may have done little to stimulate album sales, but it was the genesis of the Opal Evenings package tour; in this format, Michael would share stages around the world with Roger Eno, mystical hammer dulcimer player Laraaji and Californian composer/pianist Harold Budd.
“…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”, and “Earth Floor”) are defined by hushed, soft 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 Qawwali vocalist intoning a Middle Eastern prayer (“Hybrid”, “Midday”). -Progreviews.com
“I’m not quite sure how to describe “Hybrid”. I guess musical landscapes to 8 different settings. Turning the volume up and closing my eyes I venture into some African village that has never seen white man, doing their tribal ritual dance… I am lured into a deep hypnotic trance. When it comes to ambient music, I don’t think you can find better musicians than Michael Brook, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. It’s highly imaginative music as opposed to anything else I listen to.” -Customer review
“This is one of the defining pieces of ambient music, and Michael Brook’s best by far. It has an ancient, murmuring, earthen quality with rich percussion; a sense of centuries passing by. It also captures the heady art pop music scene of the early 80’s. I would put this in a series of Brian Eno’s other canonical collaborations from this time, namely “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, and The Talking Heads’, “Remain in Light”. I know I’ve placed Hybrid in excellent artistic company, and am convinced it deserves the praise. Ancient and modern, resolving the seeming paradox effortlessly.” -Customer review
“The music on this CD ranges from the semi-quasi-rapid pulsing of the first song to smooth keyboard with tabla, sampled insects, and eerie, sparse keyboard. It’s ambient music that doesn’t ever bore or irritate with over-spareness or techno obtrusiveness and is very interesting because what other inspirations you might not hear much in music are thrown in. Great ambience, music to soak the room with a mood you can’t put your finger on, very highly recommended.” -Customer review