INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire OCTOBER 2008 - by David Stubbs
DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO: EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
The first thing to establish about Byrne & Eno's self-released, digitally downloadable album, their first since 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, is that My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts Part 2 it ain't. In principle, this really shouldn't be a disappointment - that particular fervid search to lay down connections between white funk and the ethnological Other took place way back along the dialectical chain and there's no reason for them to resume where that left off. Rather, this 2008 collaboration resulted from a dinner meeting in which Eno mentioned that he had a pile of instrumental tracks lying around unused but was loath to write words to them. Byrne suggested he write some lyrics and lay down some vocals and this album duly evolved.
Certainly, the funky pith helmets of their 1981 selves are nowhere in evidence on the opener Home, in which, in a recurring theme of the album, Byrne yearns in that slightly perverse, David Lynchian way of his, for a way back, to a place "where my world is breaking in two", over a luxuriant, long haul of an Eno soundtrack, replete with the sort of textures he's lent to the likes of U2 in recent years. With I Feel My Stuff, the pace temporarily picks up, with Byrne and Eno establishing a nice tension as Keith Tippett-style piano runs fly off at tangents. More typical, however, are the likes of My Big Nurse, which proceeds at an acoustic clop, and again with the backward hankerings, looking for a place "Where the lost becomes the found". this mood of rocking-chair wistfulness becomes soporific, and there are times when, frankly, the mind, unjabbed by the sort of stimulus that was once Byrne & Eno's stock in trade, begins to wander. Eno's pop tapestry reminds of pop past - Strange Overtones is reminiscent of Sound And Vision, while The Beach Boys' epic pop, especially Sloop John B., lumbers to mind several times. trouble is, this isn't a Panda Bear-style evocation of pop's past as a sort of present day epiphany, but rather, fatigued pastiche. Byrne & Eno are entitled to make any sort of album they please, but part of me does resent that they've made this choice - as if, in maturity, it is right and proper to slow down, ruminate on a sense of home and hearth, put away the childish things of experimentation. Thankfully, however, there is one further flicker of life: Poor Boy, which displays a flash of livewire, neurological energy which the world could do with more of right now, and which they're still capable of providing.