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Brian Eno - Brian Eno &  David Byrne: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.96 | 146 ratings

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Easy Money
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars 1981 was a pivotal year in the history of pop and rock music. The elaborate styles of the 70s, English Progressive Rock, American Funk and RnB and Southern California's sophisticated Folk-Rock, were being replaced by new leaner styles. There was a lot of buzz in the air about the future of rock music, and at least two releases that came out that year attempted to point the way toward a new form of rock. One of those releases was Fripp's minimalist experiment, Under Heavy Manners, and the other was Byrne and Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Of the two albums, Fripp's release totally missed the mark because it was too dry and intellectual. Bush of Ghosts, on the other hand, presented a new futuristic style of rock made up of international rhythms, dubbed sound effects, sampled vocals and rich psychedelic sound textures, a style that remains popular to this day.

In the early to mid 90s, when an explosion of new music software made it easier for anyone to make professional recordings at home, this sort of beat and sound oriented international collage music had become as common as any other style of music. This style appears under a variety of names including Trip-Hop, DrumnBass, Ambient Techno, World Beat and Dub, but the basic components of these various styles are still similar to what Eno and Byrne introduced on this album.

One of the interesting things to listen to on this album is how Byrne handles the guitar parts with his limited, yet imaginative technique. On the songs that call for African-pop styled single note lines, David does pretty well with some slightly heavy-handed but somewhat funky riffs. On other songs he does a decent job of imitating the Fripp-Manzenera sustain tone you come to expect from an Eno record.

Since there has been so much music in a similar vein to Bush of Ghosts released over the years, ie music by Bill Laswell, Loop Guru, Jah Wobble, Eat Static, Mad Professor, The Orb and many others, it is interesting to compare Eno-Byrne's album with today's international beat collage recordings. Although I think computer editing has ruined a lot of modern metal and rock, I think in this sort of beat oriented music computers have worked wonders and unfortunately that makes this record sound dated because there is a lack of sophisticated effects.

There are a couple of interesting similarities to Ghosts and Fripp's Heavy Manners, both albums feature David Byrne and both feature at least one cut with the heavy-handed funk bassist Busta Jones. It is also interesting to note that Ghosts features Bill Laswell on one track. Laswell, of course went on to make a career for himself playing electro-world beat music with many international stars. There is no doubt that Bill picked up a few ideas from working with Eno, and possibly vice-versa.

Despite sounding a bit dated there are still many fun tracks on this album as well as some very beautiful psychedelic numbers as well. Unfortunately there are a couple tracks that didn't age as well and they drag a bit. Still this is an extremely important album because it pointed the way towards a whole new style of rock music.

Easy Money | 4/5 |


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