"Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)", Brian Eno's sophomore solo outing, is a grab bag of freaky, science-fiction-dipped confections. Filled with a battery of innovative, unsettling effects, the album is darker and more complex than "Here Come The Warm Jets". The artist shows an increasing willingness to experiment with texture, as on "The Great Pretender," whose whirling, oozing keyboard line and synthesized vocals approximate delirium tremens or a hatching hive of maggots, or on "Put A Straw Under Baby," which features the Portsmouth Sinfonia, whose members have no knowledge of their instruments.
Yet Eno's grasp of melody and songcraft is everywhere: on the bouncing, absurdist / philosophical "Burning Airlines (Give You So Much More)," and on straight-out rockers, like the deliciously intense "Third Uncle" (which is propelled by the churning guitar of Roxy Music's Phil Manzenera, and is, arguably, the album's highlight). Concurrent with David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane"-era alien aesthetic, Eno's tunes are even more otherwordly and warped than his glam cohort, making use of the full palette of bizarro synthesizer effects and creepy-cheeky postures. The songs, however, are as inventive and appealing as their treatments, and make for Eno's most solid - and experimental - pop album. "Taking Tiger Mountain" holds up magnificently, even years on in the artist's brilliant career.