INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Resident Advisor SEPTEMBER 17, 2008 - by Matthew Weiner
DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO: EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
"This groove is out of fashion / These beats are twenty years old" sings David Byrne on Strange Overtones - though, in fairness, it's only ten or fifteen years out of date at most. Still, Byrne last made a "must-have" record when George H. W. Bush was talking about a "thousand points of light"; and for all that Brian Eno did for the knob-twiddler-as-musician - from the analogue tape madness featured on Roxy Music's first two records to the crazed EMS Synthi guitar treatments of David Bowie's "Heroes" - anyone owning a laptop loaded with Ableton Live software can be every bit the "sonic innovator" today.
Which is precisely what makes the surprise collaboration of Everything That Happens Will Happen Today after twenty-seven years apart such a, well, surprise. Eschewing the proto-sampling of the pair's 1981 My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts altogether, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is, of all things, a fairly straightforward pop album - and a pretty rewarding one at that. In fact, the first two tracks make you wonder if this is going to be My Life Swigging Busch And Colt, such are the country leanings of Home and My Big Nurse. Then again, that may be less out of left field than it seems; Byrne, of course, has built a small empire examining Americana's quirks, but Eno has nursed his own fascinations, having sung the William Bell standard You Don't Miss Your Water on the Married To The Mob soundtrack in 1988 and written with increasingly gospel voicings in recent years.
Before long, however, the nerviness of yore rises to the surface. The wonderfully-named I Feel My Stuff begins typically enough, with an atonal piano figure, a languid beat and Byrne going on about "Lebanese Chinese in my school" before the song takes a detour into some ungodly hybrid of The James Gang's Funk #49 and Fela Kuti. Most of the record, though, showcases simpler charms. Life Is Long has a sly saxophone arrangement and lyric ("I can barely see 'cause my head's in the way") while The River boasts the signature rhythm of The Crystals' Then He Kissed Me. Meanwhile, the lovely near-title track, Everything That Happens, breezes along with such a soothingly ambient guitar strumming wafting through the ether that the listener may be taken aback when the voice that comes in is not Bono's but Byrne's.
Only on the aforementioned Strange Overtones, which features an opening filter sweep that would make Daft Punk proud, does the spectre of the pair's past work together rear its head, replete with lo-fi 808 percussion and the kind of winning harmonies that helped make Once In A Lifetime such a gas. "I remove my masks when I am done" sings Byrne on standout crooner, One Fine Day - as if to say, we may not be in psychedelic Africa anymore, but is there any reason we still need to be?
TRACK-LISTING: Home / My Big Nurse / I Feel My Stuff / Everything That Happens / Life Is Long / The River / Strange Overtones / Wanted for Life / One Fine Day / Poor Boy / The Lighthouse