Small Craft on a Milk Sea

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Small Craft on a Milk Sea
A dark brown-toned photograph of liquid with a thick white border and a brown underline
Studio album by Brian Eno with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins
Released 19 October 2010 (2010-10-19)
Recorded 2009–2010
Genre Electronic, ambient, experimental rock
Length 49:03
Language Instrumental
Label Warp
Producer Brian Eno
Brian Eno chronology
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (with David Byrne)
(2008)String Module Error: Match not found2008
Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Making Space
(2010)Making Space2010
Leo Abrahams chronology
The Grape and the Grain
(2009) The Grape and the Grain2009
Small Craft on a Milk Sea
(2010) Small Craft on a Milk Sea2010
Jon Hopkins chronology
(2009) Insides2009
Small Craft on a Milk Sea
(2010) Small Craft on a Milk Sea2010
Monsters soundtrack
(2010) Monsters soundtrack2010

Small Craft on a Milk Sea is a 2010 album by British musician and record producer Brian Eno. The album—his debut with Warp—was released in Japan on 19 October 2010, in the United States on 2 November, and the United Kingdom on 15 November. The album was recorded with collaborators Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams in 2009 and 2010 and was released in several formats, including Compact Disc; digital download; a box set featuring the album on Compact Disc, vinyl, and download, a bonus CD with four extra tracks, and a lithograph by Eno; and another box set with all of the previous media and a 12" square silkscreen print by Eno and a copper plate.[1]


Small Craft on a Milk Sea was recorded in collaboration with Abrahams and Hopkins in 2009 and 2010. Some sessions were recorded in September 2009, while Abrahams recorded his own album and performed with David Byrne on the Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno Tour to promote Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.[2] The trio also entered the studio in April 2010, to record music that was rejected from the film soundtrack to The Lovely Bones[3] and five[4] of those tracks ended up on Small Craft on a Milk Sea.[5] The music recorded for this album was mostly improvised and inspired by the sound of soundtrack albums and film scores;[6] some of the songs were composed by choosing random chords played for arbitrary intervals with improvised electronic parts on top of the melody and then edited together to make a proper song.[6] When the music was recorded for the album, Eno sequenced it to create a "macro-composition" that contains themes that run throughout the album.[7]

News broke of the proposed Eno album in July 2010;[8] the following month, Abrahams prematurely leaked details of the album,[9] including the fact that Eno had signed to Warp to release the project.[10] On 30 September 2010, Eno released the track "2 Forms of Anger" for free streaming on the Internet to promote the album[11] and followed this with "Horse" on 15 October.[12] On the 18th, "Emerald and Stone" was made available for previewing.[13]

Seven Sessions on a Milk Sea[edit]

Abrahams, Eno, and Hopkins also recorded a series of performance films featuring brand new improvised compositions to promote the album.[14] A new piece was released each week for seven weeks, each with a unique partner website from a different nation. The first to go live were "Instant Nuclear Family" with Japan's Rockin'On and "Signal Success" with The New York Times.[15] The track listing for the seven sessions can be found below.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 73[16]
Review scores
Source Rating
The A.V. Club B[17]
Billboard Favorable[18]
Chart 2.5/5[19]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[20]
Drowned in Sound 7/10[21]
Eye Weekly 4/5 stars[22]
The Japan Times Favorable[23]
The New York Times Favorable[24]
Pitchfork Media 7.4/10.0[25]
PopMatters 9/10 stars[26]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[27]
Spin 8/10 stars[28]
Uncut Favorable[29]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[30]
The Independent 4/5 stars[31]
Irish Independent 4/5 stars[32]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[33]

Small Craft on a Milk Sea was received positively by critics. Metacritic gave the album an aggregate score of 72 based on 34 reviews, indicating generally favourable reception. PopMatters gave the album 9 out of 10, writing the album " us the classically transportive experience that Brian Eno excels in creating". Andy Gill of The Independent wrote in a four-star review, "It's territory he's explored many times before... But at their best, as with the haunted De Chirico space of "Calcium Needles", these pieces are powerfully evocative". Also in a four-star review, John Bush of AllMusic wrote that "Eno may be trading on his earlier developments in ambience to a small degree, but Small Craft on a Milk Sea is a good and proper balance of curiosity and expression". Pitchfork Media was critical of the less ambient pieces, writing that "The 'active' category yields mixed results, occasionally sounding overindulged or dated", but praised the album as a whole, saying "When taken as little slivers of a larger poem, Small Craft on a Milk Sea's song titles present the listener with a notion of the past, present, and future existing as one holistic entity. With Brian Eno, you have a man who sounds uncompromisingly like all three". Chart magazine and the Chicago Tribune were less enthusiastic, giving the album 2.5 out of 5 and 2 out of 4 respectively.

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Brian Eno, Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins.

  1. "Emerald and Lime" – 3:02
  2. "Complex Heaven" – 3:05
  3. "Small Craft on a Milk Sea" – 1:49
  4. "Flint March" – 1:56
  5. "Horse" – 3:02
  6. "2 Forms of Anger" – 3:15
  7. "Bone Jump" – 2:22
  8. "Dust Shuffle" – 1:54
  9. "Paleosonic" – 4:25
  10. "Slow Ice, Old Moon" – 3:25
  11. "Lesser Heaven" – 3:21
  12. "Calcium Needles" – 3:25
  13. "Emerald and Stone" – 2:12
  14. "Written, Forgotten" – 3:55
  15. "Late Anthropocene" – 8:09
Bonus track on Japanese edition
  1. "Invisible" – 5:10
iTunes Store bonus track
  1. "Loose Rein" – 3:17
Collector's edition bonus disc
  1. "Surfacing" – 2:19
  2. "Square Chain" – 2:36
  3. "Bimini Twist" – 3:13
  4. "Abandoned Ship" – 3:45
Bonus disc available through Rough Trade
  1. "Square Chain" – 2:36
  2. "Bimini Twist" – 3:13
  3. "Invisible" – 5:10
Seven Sessions on a Milk Sea
  1. "Instant Nuclear Family" – 3:02
  2. "Signal Success" – 3:55
  3. "Written / Forgotten / Remembered" – 2:30
  4. "Allen Loop" – 1:16
  5. "Abdominal Crisis" – 3:55
  6. "Big Thief Trudge" – 1:27
  7. "Instant Nuclear Family"(Extended Version) – 7:54


Additional personnel
  • Tim Eves – photography
  • Full Stop – photography
  • Nick Robertson – design, art direction, photography
  • Nick Turner – photography
  • Jez Wiles – percussion on "Flint March", "Horse", "2 Forms of Anger", and "Dust Shuffle"


  1. ^ Dombal, Ryan (23 August 2010). "Brian Eno Reveals Warp Album Details". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  2. ^ Abrahams, Leo (2 September 2009). "musical speed-dating". Leo Abrahams. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  3. ^ Abrahams, Leo (1 May 2010). "overdub-stage dithering". Leo Abrahams. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Brian Eno: Improvising Within The Rules". National Public Radio. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  5. ^ Troussé, Stephen (December 2010), "The Doctor Will See You Now...", Uncut, 163 
  6. ^ a b Eno, Brian; Abrahams, Leo; Hopkins, Jon (13 September 2010). "Brian Eno & Collaborators on Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  7. ^ Richardson, Mark (1 November 2010). "Pitchfork: Interviews: Brian Eno". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  8. ^ Hudson, Alex (22 July 2010). "Source: Brian Eno Prepping New Solo Album for Warp Records". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  9. ^ Abrahams, Leo (4 August 2010). "apology". Leo Abrahams. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  10. ^ Michaels, Sean (3 August 2010). "Brian Eno gets the Warp factor". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  11. ^ "Brian Eno – "2 Forms of Anger"". Stereogum. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  12. ^ Breihan, Tom (15 October 2010). "New Brian Eno: "Horse"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  13. ^ Eno, Brian (18 October 2010). "New Brian Eno: "Emerald and Stone"". Soundcloud. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  14. ^ Eno, Brian (9 November 2010). "Seven Sessions". Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Itzkoff, David (8 November 2010). "Here He Comes: the Improvisational Music of Brian Eno". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  16. ^ "Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  17. ^ Williams, Christian (2 November 2010). "Brian Eno: Small Craft On A Milk Sea". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  18. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (30 October 2010). "Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  19. ^ Bryson, Scott (4 November 2010). "Brian Eno With Jon Hopkins & Leo Abrahams — Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Billboard. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Kot, Greg (29 October 2010). "Album review: Brian Eno, 'Small Craft on a Milk Sea'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  21. ^ Neyland, Nick (10 November 2010). "Brian Eno with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  22. ^ Bilton, Chris (27 October 2010). "Brian Eno with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Eye Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-31. [permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Smart, Richard (21 October 2010). "Listening Post CD Review: Brian Eno "Small Craft on a Milk Sea"". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  24. ^ Pareles, Jon (1 November 2010). "Critics' Choice: New CDs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  25. ^ Pytlik, Mark (4 November 2010). "Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  26. ^ Beasley, Corey (1 November 2010). "Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". PopMatters. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  27. ^ Hermes, Will (2 November 2010). "Small Craft on a Milk Sea by Brian Eno". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  28. ^ Beta, Andy (21 October 2010). "Brian Eno with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams, 'Small Craft on a Milk Sea' (Warp)". Spin. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  29. ^ Lewis, John (December 2010), "Brian Eno: Emall Craft on a Milk Sea", Uncut, 163 
  30. ^ Simpson, Dave (11 November 2010). "Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Small Sea — review". The Guaridan. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  31. ^ Gill, Andy (12 November 2010). "Album: Brian Eno with Jon Hopkins & Leo Abrahams, Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Warp)". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  32. ^ Meagher, John (12 November 2010). "Music: Small Craft on a Milk Sea by Brian Eno". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  33. ^ Bush, John (3 December 2010). "Small Craft on a Milk Sea – Brian Eno". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 

External links[edit]