David Byrne & Brian Eno

The album is remarkably prescient...listen closely and you'll hear some of the foundations being laid for hip hop, digital sampling and the mad eclecticism that would distinguish a good deal of electronically produced music to come.

artist:
David Byrne & Brian Eno

country of origin:
USA/UK

style(s):
World beat, entho-ambient, art rock

essential releases:

  • My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981, Sire)

Reviewed by Mike G

This one-off classic from 1981 is a bizarre and thoroughly engaging exercise in world beat from two artists who in the late 70's were both at the top of their game: David Byrne of the group Talking Heads and ambient and art rock innovator Brian Eno.

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981) is a potpourri of funk, ambient textures and ethnic sounds, all cast in what is more or less a rock context, combined with a variety of found sounds and samples taken from ethnic records and American radio. “Help Me Somebody” cleverly samples the voice of a ranting radio evangelist, while “Qu’ran” and “Regiment” likewise integrate Muslim chants and singing into what are otherwise instrumental tracks.

At times amusing, at others downright peculiar, it’s inspired, sharply executed and hugely entertaining. As an exercise in free-for-all sampling and fusion without regard for creed, colour or genre boundaries - especially in the way it uses found sounds rhythmically - the album is also remarkably prescient. Listen closely and you'll hear some of the foundations being laid for hip hop, digital sampling and the mad eclecticism that would distinguish a good deal of electronically produced music to come. 

Byrne and Eno produced no more albums together in this style, but they did reunite decades later for the far more conventional and pop song-orientated Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008).

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