Welcome to Breakdown, an unofficial resource and discussion list about the innovative guitarist/producer Michael Brook. This site is infrequently updated, but contains a great deal of background info which will remain online. For up-to-date news and information, visit Michael Brook's official site and MySpace page.

Discographies Full details on every record featuring Brook
Live at the Aquarium

Live at the Aquarium

Michael Brook

Available from Amazon.com

Credits

4AD
21 September 1992

recorded live at The Aquarium
London Zoo, 21st May 1992

Infinite Guitar and Synthesizer: Michael Brook

All titles composed
and produced by Michael Brook
Mastered by Tony Cousins
at The Town House
Published by Momentum Music BMI

Art direction and design
Vaughan Oliver and Chris bigg at v23
Still-life photography by Simon Larbalestier
Portrait photography by Bob Draper
Model making by Pirate

Tracks

  1. Shona Bridge (Brook) 5'06
  2. After Image / Urban (Brook) 9'52
  3. Andean (Brook) 2'10
  4. Ultramarine (Brook) 5'20
  5. Lakbossa (Brook) 6'10
  6. Cascade (Brook) 3'13
  7. Red Shift (Brook) 5'49

Notes

Live at the Aquarium Details of a Russian pirated edition, courtesy of Gerrit Hillebrand & his amazing Trophies.org site.

A review by Colin Glassey
(reprinted with permission from Colin Glassey's Home Page)

This music was recorded at the launch of the Cobalt Blue record. It was not originally going to be released but it turned out very nicely and, the record company released it. I like this record. It is a great deal like Cobalt Blue so if you happen not to like that record, you won't want this record at all. However, for Michael Brook fans, this music is well worth having.

from the liner notes

This live album was recorded at the press launch for the Cobalt Blue album at The Aquarium, London Zoo on 21st May 1992. It was taped by Michael, as he always does with his rare solo performances, with no intention of releasing it. But once all parties heard the recording, it was agreed that it deserved a far wider audience than the original gathering of media and friends.

Notes

  • The concert was also filmed. Portions were used in the music video for the Cobalt Blue track "Breakdown," included in the 4AD video compilation All Virgos Are Mad.
  • "Shona Bridge," "Urbana," "Andean," "Ultramarine," "Lakbossa," and "Red Shift" appear in their original, studio-recorded forms, on Cobalt Blue.
  • Breakdown commentary

    Brook often plays along with pre-programmed sequences. Live at the Aquarium befuddled me for quite some time, and I am still confused about what Brook is actually playing and when. For some time, I held the theory that he was laying down loops using a guitar synth "infinite loop" effect, much like Robert Fripp's Soundscapes technique. The key difference between the two guitarists being the incorporation of rhythm versus Fripp's slurs and aural tectonic plates.

    As Fripp has carved out a unique method of making a lot of loud, thick, engaging music with only one musician and one guitar, so has Brook. His music is complex, composed around the concepts and themes of collaboration and synergy.

    It is true that the infinite guitar allows Brook to play seemingly impossible long lead lines, and really thick echo can layer guitar notes pretty thick. It is also possible to play "drums"on a guitar synth. But it seems that he is indeed playing with sequences. I wonder,though, what kind of control he has over them. I think it would be fascinating to be able to cue, fade, and control different tracks while playing, like operating a mixing deck live (this is how outfits like The Orb and The Future Sound of London operate live, I imagine).

    Until I see Brook perform live (or perhaps on video if anything exists), I'll just have to keep asking "How does he do that?"

    To be completely honest, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the use of pre-recorded or sequenced backing tracks in live "performance." I remember being irritated at Peter Gabriel's use of canned rythms and keyboard sequences in his Secret World Live tour. Despite the obviously tremendous demands of the multimedia presentation upon the musicians, I felt somewhat cheated by the reliance on canned music to fill the sound out.

    But I feel a little differently now. Modern music has gone far beyond the traditional equation of Musician + Instrument + Score = Music. People like Brian Eno and genres like Electronic music have even called into question the term "instrumentalist." Music does not need to be produced from some object that is struck in some way. For Brook to play his music live, technology is part of an array of tools to re/create music.

    The predominance of canned music in his live concerts is thwarted with performaces of "Ultramarine" on Shona and Live at the Aquarium. Here, Brook evokes with a guitar alone an achingly beautiful tune out of cascading walls of echo and delay.

    Images

    Live at the Aquarium Live at the Aquarium Live at the Aquarium

    Related

    Shona Cobalt Blue Live at the Aquarmium