Using found sounds and trance-like rhythms, Byrne and Eno stumbled onto the future. This groundbreaking work anticipated the creative/technological innovations of contemporary electronic dance music, world music, even hip-hop. Re-mastered, re-sequenced version includes seven previously unreleased tracks.
When the David Byrne / Brian Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was first released in 1981, Rolling Stone called it “an undeniably awesome feat of tape editing and rhythmic ingenuity.” It was widely considered a watershed record for future genres from world music to electronica, and almost 25 years later, the influence of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is evident in music ranging from The Bomb Squad’s productions for Public Enemy to Moby, Kruder and Dorfmeister, and Goldie. Nonesuch reissued the album—remixed, remastered, and with seven bonus tracks—on its 25th anniversary, in 2006.
In keeping with the original spirit of the album, and in line with Creative Commons licenses, all the multitracks from two of the songs on the album will be available for download at bush-of-ghosts.com. Users will be able to remix the tracks and upload to the site, listen, and rate others remixes and upload videos they have made themselves. The site will also feature archival press from the original album release, essays, photos from the original sessions, polaroids taken by David Byrne and a video made by Bruce Conner for the song "Mea Culpa" which is also included on the CD itself.
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is inspired by Byrne’s and Eno’s shared love of African pop, and their particular fascination with the music of 1970s West Africa. In addition to playing by Byrne and Eno, the album incorporates a variety of “found” voices: radio talk-show hosts, Lebanese mountain singers, preachers, exorcism ceremonies, Muslim chanting, and Egyptian pop, among others. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts also includes the contributions of eleven other musicians, including Bill Laswell, Tim Wright, David van Tieghem, and the Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz.
Byrne’s and Eno’s explanations of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts could easily be descriptions of records released two decades later and considered groundbreaking for theirtime. Eno says, “It's almost collage music, like grafting a piece of one culture onto a piece of another onto a piece of another, and trying to make them work as a coherent musical idea, and also trying to make something you can dance to.”
Byrne further elucidates the recording process: “At that time there were no samplers, so the found vocals were inserted into the music by trial and error. We’d have two tape machines playing simultaneously, one containing the track and the other the vocal and, if the gods willed, which they often seemed to, there would be a serendipity, the vocal and the track would at least seem to feel like they belonged together, and it would be a ‘take.’ It was all ‘played” and very seat-of-the-pants. There was none of the incremental tweaking and time-correcting that is possible with modern samplers and computers, so throwing the vocals against the tracks was in our case almost a performance.”
All songs originally recorded 1979-1980
Produced By Brian Eno and David Byrne
RPM, New York, NY, August 4 & 16, 1979; Engineer: Neal Teeman Assistant Engineer: Hugh Dwyer
Blue Rock, New York, NY, September 5, 1979; Engineer: Eddie Korvin Assistant Engineer: Michael Ewasko
Eldorado, Los Angeles, CA, February & March 1980; Engineer: Dave Jerden Assistant Engineer: George Sloane
Different Fur, San Francisco, CA, April 1980; Engineer: Stacy Baird Assistant Engineers: Don Mack, Howard Johnston
Sigma, New York, NY, October 1980; Engineer: John Potoker
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York, NY, April 28, 2005
All songs written by Brian Eno / David Byrne, except track 3 by Brian Eno / David Byrne / Busta Jones
Title from the book My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola (Grove Press)
Reissue design by Peter Buchanan-Smith; original package design by Peter Saville
Booklet cover image: still from a video by Brian Eno
This is available from Nonesuch in the US and Canada only
Brian Eno and David Byrne, guitars, basses, synthesizers, drums, percussions, found objects
John Cooksey, drums (4)
Chris Frantz, drums (3)
Dennis Keeley, bodhran, (2)
Mingo Lewis, bata, sticks (5, 8)
Prairie Prince, can, bass drum (5, 8)
Jose Rossy, congas, agong-gong (7)
Steve Scales, congas, metals (4)
David van Tieghem, drums, percussion (1, 3)
Busta Jones, bass (3)
Bill Laswell, bass (1)
Tim Wright, click bass (1)
Rooks on track 4 courtesy April Potts, Eglingham Hall