Brian Eno/David Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts “Milestone” review (CDNow)

Brian Eno/David Byrne
My Life In The Bush of Ghosts
Sire/Warner Bros.

By the time Brian Eno teamed up with David Byrne to record My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, he had already recorded several groundbreaking albums. His albums of sci-fi prog-pop like Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy were light years ahead of his previous work with Roxy Music and would pave the way for dozens of other pop experimentalists. And with his excursions into ambience like Discreet Music and Ambient 1: Music For Airports, Eno was perhaps the first pop artist to explore silence and space as a creative tool.

However, with this album, Eno managed to coalesce his two areas of experimentation into one blindingly amazing piece of work. One of the (if not the) first albums to utitlize sampling as a central facet of its creation, the 11 tracks that make up My Life In The Bush of Ghosts are rich with unidentified voices, mysterious drum patterns and, of course, Eno’s lusciously ethereal synthesizer work. The result is a dense tapestry of sound that alternates between futuristic tribalism, swooning beauty and some politically muddled mantras.

Much of the album’s charm, though, lies in the way the samples are used. Recorded in 1979 and 1980, before the Talking Heads made a splash with “Once In A Lifetime,” Byrne was forced to exorcise his world music jones through records, rather than by hopping on a plane. Thus, the “Lebanese mountain singer” Dunya Yusin and the “Egyptian popular singer” Samira Tewfik – whose voices grace several of the songs – are voices lifted off of albums. Necessity being the mother of invention, the sampling techniques used here would show the way for drummer-less groups to play with Clyde Stubblefield and for guitar-less groups to play with Eddie Van Halen, basically ushering in a whole new era of musical creation.

First appeared December 2000 at


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