INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Fact AUGUST 20, 2008 - by K-Punk
DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO: EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
Two performers who at their best were conduits between pop and experimentalism turn out an album of spectacular banality. Put their previous collaboration, 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, completely out of your mind. There, Byrne and Eno married funk with found sounds and field recordings, replacing James Brown with sampled hellfire preachers. Here, we have to make do with Byrne's stridently whining voice, irritating at the best of times, but intolerable without the neurotic post-punk funk of Talking Heads to offset it, accompanied by a tasteful, unmemorable, characterless, organic-sounding musical backing (shopping mall-bright acoustic guitars, anaemic piano, drums played with brushes).
The Eno that turns up here is not the producer-conceptualist of Bowie's Berlin records and the '70s Ambient series, a figure who is now long gone, but the culture criminal who collaborated with U2 and Coldplay. The suspicion grows, in fact, that Eno is a marketer without portfolio whose art lies in assimilating, synthesising and then re-selling any era's trends, and that what his celebrated adaptability anticipated more than anything was the 'flexibility' demanded of the late capitalist immaterial labourer. Eno once manufactured glam masks, No Wave grimaces and Ambient impersonality; with the Coldplay assignment and this, he's fallen into line with this decade's taste for ultra-conservative singer sincerity.