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American Utopia

  • 565710

News & Reviews

  • David Byrne's American Utopia tour, which has earned rave review across continents throughout the year, has been shortlisted for a Q Award for Best Live Act. Folks can cast their votes and choose the winners now through Thursday, October 5, at qthemusic.com. The awards will be presented at London's Roundhouse on October 17. The American Utopia tour continues in the US through mid-October, and heads back across the Atlantic for two weeks of arena shows in the UK. "If you only go to one gig this Autumn, make it this," exclaims the Independent's i.

  • Caetano Veloso and David Byrne caught up backstage at Byrne's American Utopia concert on Friday, and Veloso took in the concert from the crowd. He shared his beautiful response to the show on his Instagram, roughly translated from the Portuguese here. "The David Byrne (American Utopia) show is incredible," says Veloso. "It is one of the most beautiful rock or pop concerts ever made and is unlike any other." Read what else he has to say here.

  • About This Album

    David Byrne announced his forthcoming solo record, American Utopia, during a presentation of "Reasons To Be Cheerful," an ongoing series curated by Byrne of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures. The presentation was given at New York's New School to a live audience, as well as livestreamed via his Facebook page. American Utopia will be released March 9, 2018, via Todomundo / Nonesuch Records, accompanied by a world tour that will bring a choreographed concert that Byrne has called "the most ambitious show I've done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense." The album track "Everybody's Coming To My House"—co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa, Onyx Collective leader Isaiah Barr, Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others—also was released. 

    American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne's vision for his series "Reasons To Be Cheerful," named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation—something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us. A “Reasons To Be Cheerful” hub, where Byrne shares these items, can be accessed here.

    While David Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne's first solo album since, 2004's Grown Backwards, also on Nonesuch. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Eno, and eventually growing to include collaboration with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others. The album was recorded in New York City at DB Spare Bedroom, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio 1.

    Speaking about the album, Byrne said:

    These songs don't describe this imaginary and possibly impossible place, but rather they attempt to describe the world we live in now—and that world, when we look at it, as we live in it, as it impacts on us—immediately commands us to ask ourselves- is there another way? A better way? A different way?

    This group of songs is indirectly about those questions. And what drives us to ask those questions. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title is not so much about a utopia, as it is about our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, hopes regarding what could be, what is possible. How and what could we be. Surely, we ask ourselves, it doesn't have to be like this. There is a longing for possibility— and I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.

    America—or to be correctthe United States—was founded as a Utopian Experiment. Though it never did succeed in all its aims enough were realized in the brief history to give hope to many. Now it seems we are seeing that hope, those possibilities, be withdrawn. The project seems on the verge of complete and utter failure. So, naturally, we all now ask ourselves—was it too much to ask? Are we wrong about how humans can be? Is there another way? Can we start over?

    I am as mystified as any of us—I have no prescriptions or sure-fire answers—but I sense that I am not the only one asking, wondering and still willing to hold on to some tiny bit of hope, still willing to not succumb entirely to despair or cynicism. It's not easy, but music helps.

    The album packaging features the work of "outsider artist" Purvis Young, whose work was often a blend of painting/drawing and collaged elements comprised of everyday found objects. A painting depicting a head with a face of indeterminate race or possibly gender—dreaming, meditating, contemplating—is on the album's cover.

    David Byrne’s recent works include Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, a theatrical exploration of the historical heroine which premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2017); The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY, a series of interactive environments created in conjunction with PACE Arts + Technology that question human perception and bias (2016); Contemporary Color, an event inspired by the American folk tradition of color guard and performed at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (2015); Here Lies Love, a twenty-two-song theatrical production about the life of Imelda Marcos, authored in collaboration with Fatboy Slim that premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2013), traveled to London’s National Theater for a sold-out run (2014–15), and was remounted at the Seattle Repertory Theater (2017); Love This Giant, a studio album and worldwide tour created with St. Vincent (2012); and How Music Works, a book about the history, experience, and social aspects of music (2012). In 2015 Byrne curated Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival in London. Aco-founder of the group Talking Heads (1976–88), he has released nine studio albums and worked on multiple other projects, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Jonathan Demme, among others. He also founded the highly respected record label Luaka Bop. ecognition of Byrne’s various works include Obies, Drama Desk, Lortel, and Evening Standard awards for Here Lies Love, an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe for the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Talking Heads. Byrne has published and exhibited visual art since his college days, including photography, filmmaking and writing. He lives in New York City.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    David Byrne, vocals (1–10), guitars (1–3, 6–10), keys (1, 2, 7, 9), pads (9)
    Brian Eno, drum programming (1), vocoder (1), background vocals (1), prog ride tracks (1), keys (6, 8), percussion (6, 9), vocal effects (6), celeste (6), whistling (6), brass (6), drums (8), robot rhythm guitar (9)
    Thomas Bartlett, piano (1), Mellotron (1, 2, 7, 9)
    Rodaidh McDonald, additional keys (1–3, 6, 8, 9), verse percussion (1), arrangement (2–5, 10), drum programming (2–9), bells (6), strings (7), percussion programming (8)
    Joey Waronker , tom (1), snare (1)
    Jack Peñate, backing vocals (2, 7), keys (2, 3, 7), textures (2), bass (3), shaker (3)
    Happa, drum programming (2, 9), electronics (3), drums (3), synth solo (9)
    Jamie Edwards, sitar samples (2)
    Nathan Jenkins, harmonica solo (2), voices (2)
    Jaakko Savolainen, guitar (2), bass (2), synth (2), keys (3)
    Isaiah Barr, sax (2, 9)
    Alex Epton, choir programming (2), drum programming (2, 6, 8), synth stabs (3), bass (7), cymbals (8), shaker (9)
    Magnus Bang Olsen, piano (3)
    Ben Anderson, cymbal (3)
    Jam City, synth stabs (3), guitar (3), drums (3)
    Ben Reed, live bass (3, 9)
    Koreless, drums (3)
    Daniel Lopatin, keys (4, 5, 8, 10), drums (4, 5, 10), synths (4), bass (4), strings (8), processing and textures (8, 9)
    Joe Williams, harp (4)
    Ariel Rechtshaid, flexatone (6)
    Mauro Refosco, wood percussion (6), talking drums (7), bongos (7), percussion (8, 9)
    Airhead, drums (7)
    MMPH, main orchestral arrangement (8), sounds (8)
    Brian Wolfe, drums (8)
    Ethan P Flynn, middle 8 section synths (9)
    Sampha, piano (9)

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by David Byrne, Rodaidh McDonald and Patrick Dillett
    Based on original tracks by Brian Eno
    Mixed and additional programming by David Wrench for Solar Management Ltd.
    Mix Engineers: Marta Salogni, Jack Sugden and Tuck Nelson
    Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound
    Engineered by Alex Epton, Matt Cohn, and Patrick Dillett
    Additional Engineering on "This Is That" by Gabriel Schuman

    Recorded at:
    DB Spare Bedroom, NYC
    Reservoir Studios, NYC
    Oscilloscope Studios, NYC
    XL Studio, NYC
    Livingston Studio 1, London
    Crowdspacer Studio, NYC

    All songs written by David Byrne and Brian Eno, except:
    Tracks 5 and 10 written by David Byrne and Daniel Lopatin

    Tracks 5 and 10 produced by Daniel Lopatin
    Additional Production by Rodaidh McDonald

    Artwork by Purvis Young
    © 2017 Estate of Purvis Young / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

nonesuch's picture
on January 2, 2018 - 1:48pm
Artist Name: 
David Byrne
Release Date: 
Friday, March 9, 2018 (All day)
DescriptionExcerpt: 

David Byrne's album American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with the vision for his series "Reasons To Be Cheerful" (named for the Ian Dury song), for which he has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that inspire optimism. "American Utopia is an album full of pulsating beats and rich textures," says Stereogum. "The new album isn't a throwback; it feels like it could only exist right now." Q says: "Byrne remains as playful and brilliant as ever."

Description: 

David Byrne announced his forthcoming solo record, American Utopia, during a presentation of "Reasons To Be Cheerful," an ongoing series curated by Byrne of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures. The presentation was given at New York's New School to a live audience, as well as livestreamed via his Facebook page. American Utopia will be released March 9, 2018, via Todomundo / Nonesuch Records, accompanied by a world tour that will bring a choreographed concert that Byrne has called "the most ambitious show I've done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense." The album track "Everybody's Coming To My House"—co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa, Onyx Collective leader Isaiah Barr, Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others—also was released. 

American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne's vision for his series "Reasons To Be Cheerful," named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation—something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us. A “Reasons To Be Cheerful” hub, where Byrne shares these items, can be accessed here.

While David Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne's first solo album since, 2004's Grown Backwards, also on Nonesuch. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Eno, and eventually growing to include collaboration with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others. The album was recorded in New York City at DB Spare Bedroom, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio 1.

Speaking about the album, Byrne said:

These songs don't describe this imaginary and possibly impossible place, but rather they attempt to describe the world we live in now—and that world, when we look at it, as we live in it, as it impacts on us—immediately commands us to ask ourselves- is there another way? A better way? A different way?

This group of songs is indirectly about those questions. And what drives us to ask those questions. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title is not so much about a utopia, as it is about our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, hopes regarding what could be, what is possible. How and what could we be. Surely, we ask ourselves, it doesn't have to be like this. There is a longing for possibility— and I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.

America—or to be correctthe United States—was founded as a Utopian Experiment. Though it never did succeed in all its aims enough were realized in the brief history to give hope to many. Now it seems we are seeing that hope, those possibilities, be withdrawn. The project seems on the verge of complete and utter failure. So, naturally, we all now ask ourselves—was it too much to ask? Are we wrong about how humans can be? Is there another way? Can we start over?

I am as mystified as any of us—I have no prescriptions or sure-fire answers—but I sense that I am not the only one asking, wondering and still willing to hold on to some tiny bit of hope, still willing to not succumb entirely to despair or cynicism. It's not easy, but music helps.

The album packaging features the work of "outsider artist" Purvis Young, whose work was often a blend of painting/drawing and collaged elements comprised of everyday found objects. A painting depicting a head with a face of indeterminate race or possibly gender—dreaming, meditating, contemplating—is on the album's cover.

David Byrne’s recent works include Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, a theatrical exploration of the historical heroine which premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2017); The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY, a series of interactive environments created in conjunction with PACE Arts + Technology that question human perception and bias (2016); Contemporary Color, an event inspired by the American folk tradition of color guard and performed at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (2015); Here Lies Love, a twenty-two-song theatrical production about the life of Imelda Marcos, authored in collaboration with Fatboy Slim that premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2013), traveled to London’s National Theater for a sold-out run (2014–15), and was remounted at the Seattle Repertory Theater (2017); Love This Giant, a studio album and worldwide tour created with St. Vincent (2012); and How Music Works, a book about the history, experience, and social aspects of music (2012). In 2015 Byrne curated Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival in London. Aco-founder of the group Talking Heads (1976–88), he has released nine studio albums and worked on multiple other projects, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Jonathan Demme, among others. He also founded the highly respected record label Luaka Bop. ecognition of Byrne’s various works include Obies, Drama Desk, Lortel, and Evening Standard awards for Here Lies Love, an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe for the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Talking Heads. Byrne has published and exhibited visual art since his college days, including photography, filmmaking and writing. He lives in New York City.

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by David Byrne, Rodaidh McDonald and Patrick Dillett
Based on original tracks by Brian Eno
Mixed and additional programming by David Wrench for Solar Management Ltd.
Mix Engineers: Marta Salogni, Jack Sugden and Tuck Nelson
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound
Engineered by Alex Epton, Matt Cohn, and Patrick Dillett
Additional Engineering on "This Is That" by Gabriel Schuman

Recorded at:
DB Spare Bedroom, NYC
Reservoir Studios, NYC
Oscilloscope Studios, NYC
XL Studio, NYC
Livingston Studio 1, London
Crowdspacer Studio, NYC

All songs written by David Byrne and Brian Eno, except:
Tracks 5 and 10 written by David Byrne and Daniel Lopatin

Tracks 5 and 10 produced by Daniel Lopatin
Additional Production by Rodaidh McDonald

Artwork by Purvis Young
© 2017 Estate of Purvis Young / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

565710

ns_album_releasedate: 
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 13:30
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
LP+MP3
UPC: 
075597932140
Price: 
17.00
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597932133
Price: 
14.00
Label: 
MP3
UPC: 
075597932195
Price: 
9.00
Label: 
FLAC
UPC: 
075597932164
Price: 
10.00
Label: 
96/24 HD FLAC
UPC: 
075597932171
Price: 
14.00
Label: 
ESPO Diptych + MP3
UPC: 
075597929966
Price: 
50.00
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
David Byrne, vocals (1–10), guitars (1–3, 6–10), keys (1, 2, 7, 9), pads (9)
Brian Eno, drum programming (1), vocoder (1), background vocals (1), prog ride tracks (1), keys (6, 8), percussion (6, 9), vocal effects (6), celeste (6), whistling (6), brass (6), drums (8), robot rhythm guitar (9)
Thomas Bartlett, piano (1), Mellotron (1, 2, 7, 9)
Rodaidh McDonald, additional keys (1–3, 6, 8, 9), verse percussion (1), arrangement (2–5, 10), drum programming (2–9), bells (6), strings (7), percussion programming (8)
Joey Waronker , tom (1), snare (1)
Jack Peñate, backing vocals (2, 7), keys (2, 3, 7), textures (2), bass (3), shaker (3)
Happa, drum programming (2, 9), electronics (3), drums (3), synth solo (9)
Jamie Edwards, sitar samples (2)
Nathan Jenkins, harmonica solo (2), voices (2)
Jaakko Savolainen, guitar (2), bass (2), synth (2), keys (3)
Isaiah Barr, sax (2, 9)
Alex Epton, choir programming (2), drum programming (2, 6, 8), synth stabs (3), bass (7), cymbals (8), shaker (9)
Magnus Bang Olsen, piano (3)
Ben Anderson, cymbal (3)
Jam City, synth stabs (3), guitar (3), drums (3)
Ben Reed, live bass (3, 9)
Koreless, drums (3)
Daniel Lopatin, keys (4, 5, 8, 10), drums (4, 5, 10), synths (4), bass (4), strings (8), processing and textures (8, 9)
Joe Williams, harp (4)
Ariel Rechtshaid, flexatone (6)
Mauro Refosco, wood percussion (6), talking drums (7), bongos (7), percussion (8, 9)
Airhead, drums (7)
MMPH, main orchestral arrangement (8), sounds (8)
Brian Wolfe, drums (8)
Ethan P Flynn, middle 8 section synths (9)
Sampha, piano (9)

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