Mortal Prophets - Brian Eno In Heaven (EP Review)

New Yorker John Beckmann has had a productive few years. Since 2022, the genre-averse artist has released four albums (one of which was an opera titled HANUSSEN) and numerous EPS and singles. Going under the nome de plume Mortal Prophets, Beckmann incorporates experimental traditions and sensory indulgence into his cinematic take on ambient electronic music. His recent EP, Brian Eno In Heaven, is mostly instrumental, though there are some wordless vocal contributions from Dämmerungschor which add a human element to the otherwise dream-soaked sound of the instrumental work. 

The title of this EP, "Brian Eno In Heaven", is curious, to say the least, and concerning to say the most. Brian Eno is still alive. Is there a deathwish sentiment to this title? It's unlikely, but you have to be careful these days. More probable is that Beckmann is stating that Heaven's DJ has the Professor playing over the loudspeakers 24/7. What leads me to that conclusion? This EP generally aims for the ethereal, mostly landing on blissed-out, anodyne passages. However, there are sinister moments, including  "Swimming with Witches", which paints darker scenes and uses escalating intensity and disturbing tones to test its audience orientation.

But when it's beautiful, it's beautiful. The opening track, "Drowned Lands", is mostly texture and ambience, though there's a pronounced sense of melody to its rolling keys that recalls the airy work of late Japanese practitioner Hiroshi Yoshimura. Indeed, Mortal Prophets often tread the fine line between the spruced up and the carefree. This dichotomy wonderfully converges on the EP highlight, "Fraulein Anna Sprengel", with its classy drum rolls complimenting eerie guitar licks and shamanistic percussion. 

On the flip side, this unhinged whimsy yields some not-so-impressive moments. For example, "Mesmer On Holiday" is a directionless piece of noodling, if ever there was one. The titular closing track sees a repetitive piano line play out around spacey and wobbly synthetic flourishes. The lapping piano recalls Eno's seminal "Music for Airports", though Beckmann embellishes his minimalist piece with a heavy-handed garnish of sonic anomalies. Choral vocal swells and celestial keys ultimately set this EP on the New Age of ambient.  

Brian Eno In Heaven by Mortal Prophets is a wandering assortment of explorative electronica pieces that both disorient and ease with their reality-shifting dichotomies.