In 1981, David Byrne, singer and spokesperson for the Talking Heads, huddled up with Brian Eno, polymath and producer, and released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (re-release reviewed in NI 388). Using cut-ups from an extraordinary variety of sound sources, it was an album that anticipated the sampling revolution and, by extension, the changed face of music. Nearly 30 years later, and with so much water under the bridge (there’s no way of summarizing either man’s extensive range of activities within art and sound), comes the duo’s second work together.
To be clear from the onset, Everything that Happens… is no Bush of Ghosts. It’s not got the edgy, funky bricolage that characterized the earlier album and nor does it seek that. This is actually a strength: made by swapping sonic landscapes (Eno’s) and vocals (Byrne’s) over the internet, it is the product of more contemporary working methods and interests. Eno and Byrne refer to the album’s 11 songs as originating in an idea of ‘electronic gospel’, where singing (chiefly Byrne’s) is the main event. That said, the whole thrust of Byrne’s presence is far smoother than anything associated with the Talking Heads (the exception is the skittering rhythms of ‘Poor Boy’), while Eno has constructed some effective and affectingly accumulating music, especially on the title track and ‘Strange Overtones’. All in all, it’s great to have them back.
The album is currently available via download only; CD versions will be shipped in November.