Skip to content

Tiger Mountain Taken by Mike Nessing

Rock NYC contributing editor Mike Nessing reviews Brian Eno’s 1974 classic Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy.
The first time I heard Eno’s second solo album was when I was about 15 years old.
It was recommended to me by an older sibling who intrigued me with talk of this English conjurer who was too busy to be in a band, and strove for a higher form of aural expression. Eno was more interested in treatments of sound, and playing his tapes in order to experiment with pitch, timbre, and effects.

Tipped off that this album could be taken out at the town library of all places, I hopped on my 10 speed bike, library card in hand. I could tell right away that this was going to be a demanding journey (the album, not the bike ride). The record jacket itself was daunting, with it’s mosaic depictions of our hero in varying sizes and clarity. It turned out that the cover art was a metaphor for the ingredients inside. This music is very much a mosaic. Some of it very big, some of it very small. Songs appear that strike you right away, while other tracks insist that you explore them, too distorted to even make an initial impact.

Luckily, I was up for the challenge. One of the first things I picked up on was the element of whimsy. With an opening track titled “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More”, this was going to be either a terrorist manifesto, or groovy tongue-in-cheek beat poetry. Fortunately, the latter won out. I would later discover that Eno’s lyrical approach was basically him riffing random syllables on top of his backing track over and over to himself. Once he hit on a combination that complimented the music, he plugged in words that most closely matched those syllables.

The comedic elements don’t end there. Over the course of this LP we are confounded by all sorts of random sounds. Typewriters, whistling, goat-bleating sax riffs, blatantly spooky keyboard sounds, drums and other instruments intentionally recorded to sound like toys, and guitar solos that have been severely manipulated with pitch control and other types of “Enossification”.

Underneath it all though, is a very complex beauty. The basic tracks anchor the whole statement. They are extraordinary in their musicality. The backing vocals seem to emulate Gregorian Chant, but in a much higher octave. Today, we would refer to them as “soundscapes”. Eno was on the precipice of defining an actual approach toward music that had never been explored before. This would eventually be coined by him as “Ambient”. Music that exists in the background, at a volume level so low as to not call any attention to itself. The very beginnings of this approach can be found here, buried under all the mischievous overdubs and off-kilter dark lyrical themes. Eno was soon to discover that by peeling everything away, an entirely new musical language was available.

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

L.A. Burning, West Coast Concert Picks, January 30th To February 4th

By Alyson Camus | January 29, 2023 |

Ice Cube is playing at the Belasco

Sneak Peaks: Upcoming Album Releases 2-3-23 – 2-9-23

By Iman Lababedi | January 29, 2023 |

return to the top of country

Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1983 (Volume 14, Number 8)

By Steve Crawford | January 29, 2023 |

a cow with eighteen udders

Bob Marley One Love Experience At Ovation Hollywood

By Alyson Camus | January 29, 2023 |

“a journey through his life, passions, influences, and enduring legacy”

Yours truly with the true Godfather Giannini Russo who played Carlo in the original Godfather

By admin | January 28, 2023 |

the true Godfather Giannini Russo

UK Top 10 Albums 1-27-23 – 2-2-23

By Iman Lababedi | January 28, 2023 |

Has Brit rock ever been worse?

UK Top 10 Singles 1-27-23 – 2-2-23

By Iman Lababedi | January 28, 2023 |

essence de 2023

Press Releases For January, Here Are The Artists

By Alyson Camus | January 27, 2023 |

A very percussive song

The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 1-27-23 – 3-2-23 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | January 27, 2023 |

the mixes his producer Daniel Lanois didn’t like

The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 1-27-23 – 2-2-23, Rosalia’s “LLYLM”) Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | January 27, 2023 |

her best since “Milionària”

Scroll To Top