Masterpiece, milestone - "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" is an album that hasn't lost a trace of its appeal even 25 years after its initial release. Field recordings, exotic instruments, voices, everyday noises, recording all that and packaging it into music or sound collages, had already existed before - Pierre Schaeffer started developing his "musique concrète" at the end of the 40s. But never before (and actually never since) have musicians succeeded in such a colourful and consistent realisation as Brian Eno and Talking Heads mastermind David Byrne with their collaboration. On almost hypnotizing rhythm surfaces, played by Bill Laswell on bass and Heads drummer Chris Frantz, among others, they unfold a completely new world of sound with samples of Lebanese mountain singers, radio talk shows, Southern priests, Egyptian pop or an exorcism - incompatible elements are combined into unity.
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 & Dorfmeister, and Goldie. Nonesuch reissued the album - remixed, remastered, and with seven bonus tracks - on its 25th anniversary, in 2006
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 their time. 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."