My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
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My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Released in 1981, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is a collaboration between ambient pioneer Brian Eno and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. On Ghosts, the two strong-willed musicians manage to come to a meeting of the minds, blending Byrne's herky-jerky funk with Eno's atmospheric sound sculpting. More than anything, this is a large album, intent on pushing itself to the front of the listener's consciousness. Abundant percussion (everything from booming tribal drums to eerie electronics) reverberates in the background while Byrne and Eno toss all manner of found sounds, field recordings, and radio broadcasts into the mix. What results is a groundbreaking album that introduced a generation to the dazzling possibilities offered by electronic recording techniques. Highlights include "The Jezebel Spirit," an electro-funk workout that uses a recording of an exorcism as its focal point, and "Very, Very Hungry," a mysteriously ethereal display of electronic percussion and large-scale sonic architecture. --S. Duda
Top customer reviews
This very interesting, quirky, moody, difficult, dark, light, eccentric, pioneering, even humorous stew of sounds, voices, samples, in a backdrop of electronic soundscapes blends the incidental and percussive with the ambient--just what you'd expect to hear from a collaboration of Eno and Byrne.
Of course I would love it--Eno's collaborations rarely, if ever, miss, I love just about everything he's involved in (that I've had the pleasure of hearing). Both Eno and Byrne could be considered pioneers and geniuses in their own right (and are deemed as such by many) so how could this record be anything but something fantastic.
Mr. Wright (who incidentally also thinks highly of Remain in Light) describes his first reaction to the album, presumably on its initial release: "This knocked me sideways when I first heard it--full of drum loops, samples and soundscapes, stuff that we really take for granted now, but which was unheard of in all but the most progressive musical circles at the time." That's really the key to getting used to this album--remembering that these were the first ventures into things we now consider ordinary. In a certain way, the roughness of parts of it gives it a unique sound that sets it far apart from the overpolished works of today. That is not to say this is *sloppy* in any way--the best was done with the technology that existed then, and for that I respect David Byrne and Brian Eno.
"There's a song called The Jezebel Spirit where there's a snippet of a preacher and the way the sounds were mixed in was so fresh it was amazing," Mr. Wright comments on a track that seems to get good reviews from most people. While I admit the track is well put together, there are times when I skip it because it can be quite unnerving! If you ask me, that exorcist sounds much more evil at times than the supposed demon he is trying to remove! I'm afraid I can't see why some reviewers are calling this track optimistic. Probably, in addition to "The Jezebel Spirit", my least listened-to track on this album is "Moonlight in Glory". However, over time, I have actually come to appreciate it even if it's not a favorite; this is why I no longer feel any heartburn with giving a full 5-star rating.
In my opinion, the three strongest tracks are the ones that draw from Middle Eastern sources for their vocals. Each of them, including the painfully short "A Secret Life", I wish had been longer! My two favorites were those with vocals sampled from Lebanese mountain singer Dunya Yusin: "The Carrier" and "Regiment". I must also point out the excellent guitar work in "Regiment", which seems to me like a precursor to the similarly enjoyable work in Speaking in Tongues' "Making Flippy-Floppy". I also noticed what seemed to be almost a sort of commentary by David Byrne upon politicians and televangelists (the latter are not slams on religion, in my opinion--rather, the *popularization* of it); the way sound clips are used seem to make both groups look a bit ridiculous at times. For instance, "Mea Culpa's" juxtaposition of the babbling politician's weasling out of whatever he did with David Byrne's listless "blah blah blah blah" makes just as much of a statement as if he'd written lyrics of that nature and sang them. I also notice that in the song "Come With Us", he makes the evangelist sound rather like some freaky cultist, which in my opinion sometimes becomes the case when the evangelist focuses upon creation of a personality cult rather than a religious organization. There are other examples than just these two, however.
Overall, I think this is a very worthwhile album if you're willing to put forth the effort that may be needed to adjust to it.
Byrne and Eno made a likely pair, just having completed the seminal Talking Heads album Remain in Light, already composing music for the Byrne-Twyla Tharp collaborative ballet The Catherine Wheel (which I am convinced contains outtakes from Bush of Ghosts). After having produced three Talking Heads albums, Eno finally managed to get private time with Byrne, another deadpan hip artist-type with a quirky public image and a penchant for experimental working methods. Their collaboration also created a tense resentment amongst the Talking Heads and was a pre-echo of later years when the non-Byrne Heads confessed that their old friend David no longer wanted to talk to them. While the rhythm section's side-project The Tom Tom Club was a funky clever fun band, they definitely showed where they begged to differ with the songwriter who wrote lines like, "Rattle of bones/Dreams that stick out/Medical chart on the wall." One can only imagine the pencil thin Byrne and the gentle English artistocrat with the synth keyboards sitting in a SoHo loft at 4 in the morning with their Warhol-like tape recorders pressed against the stereo speaker or the cable television channel.
The music is Afro-Funk in style, layered textures of strange poly-rhythms, blips and bleeps of synthesized sounds, danceable off-beats, driving tribal deep percussion, choppy guitars which Eno liner notes often described as "treated" and the larger-than-life funk bass of Busta Cherry Jones. There is also the awesome presence of Robert Fripp on "Regiment."
Fans of Moby's "Play" may want to listen to this album to see where the cue-ball headed one derived some of his techniques for songs like "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" and "Natural Blues." And he lives in the same neighborhood once occupied by the Byrne-Eno hybrid. Hmmmmm....
My advice for unitiated would be to buy three records. "Remain in Light" by the Heads, "My Life In the Bush of Ghosts" and "The Catherine Wheel" score. Wait for the middle of the night, turn off the lights, turn on the CD player, and sit back to enjoy the haunting. Neither artist has ever recreated the artisitic high they hit with this trilogy.
Most recent customer reviews
This album is excellent, but a song called Qu'aran, (one of my favourite)is not on this CD ! political reasons ? I don't know.Read more