Originally conceived as "a series of recordings based on an imaginary culture", My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
finds Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and studio egghead Brian Eno marking time between 1979s Fear Of Music
and the following years Remain In Light
with a machetes-out excursion into the dense, unexplored ethnic wilderness. Recorded with a cast of virtuoso players that includes bassist Bill Laswell and New York percussionist David Van Tieghem, its an album that blurs the boundaries between African rhythms and the electronic avant-garde, a feat made possible thanks to Enos cutting-edge studio tool the sampler. Its this equipment that provides the "voice" of the record. A series of disembodied voices, in fact - Arabian singers, raging US talk-show hosts, Christian preacher men, field recordings not just dropped into the music but immersed in it, until its impossible to sense the join. Stiffly funky and reliant on electronics, its a defiantly modern record, which paradoxically, dates it somewhat next to Byrnes next work, Talking Heads immortal Remain In Light
. It remains a fascinating milestone in experimentation, however, its foundation loosing a tremor that can still be heard in everything from Mobys Play
to the teeming ranks of modern hip-hop.--Louis Pattison
When My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts was released in February 1981, it was the last in David Byrne and Brian Eno's 'African trilogy'. Its influence remains simply enormous: echoes of this record can be heard throughout modern music, from the obvious sound collages of Public Enemy and DJ Shadow to, even, the clever and dense production references of pop acts such as Girls Aloud.
"The Jezebel Spirit", "Help Me Somebody" and "Regiment" remain the triumvirate of tracks on which this reputation rests, typifying this groundbreaking montage of beats, scratches, itches and glitches. You would still be hard pushed to find a denser, knottier funk with disembodied voices weaving in and out. Given the painstaking process of assemblage involved and the cerebral nature of the subject matter, it remains a very warm and inclusive record, largely due to the fact that cream of avant pop assembled and created a sweetly bubbling musical stew to support all the theory.
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is the record that gave the world 'found voices' and signposted the way for producers to become 'curators'. No matter how many subsequent sins have been created in curating found voices for art's sake, this record in its lavish 25th Anniversary finery with seven bonus tracks remains the definitive article. --Daryl Easlea
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