In the month since Warp Records debuted a new Brian Eno track, a collaboration with poet Rick Holland titled “Glitch,” the song has received over 100,000 plays on Soundcloud.com. Warp has now followed that up with a second Eno-Holland collaborative track, which, like “Glitch,” is sourced from the sessions that yielded the forthcoming Drums Between the Bells, due out July 5. This second track, titled “Imagine New Times,” is very much a contrast with “Glitch”: sedate where “Glitch” was caffeinated, human (Eno reads Holland’s words) where “Glitch” was emphatically mechanical, free to download (well, for the price of your email address) where “Glitch” was streaming-only in advance of the album’s release. In addition, while “Glitch” actually appears on Drums Between the Bells, “Imagine New Times” is an outtake.
Eno’s voice comes across as self-consciously, even defiantly, aged here, slow enough for you to hear the wear on his vocal chords. That weathered sensibility finds a balance between the poem’s imagined “new times,” and the general impression of reflection, of, as the poem puts it, “paperweight lives [that] parade undesigned.” At the very end, when Eno repeats the title phrase for the umpteenth time, you can hear his voice crack. All the while a light click track emphasizes the passage of time, and attenuated bell tones gather in shifting layers.