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One fine day

I have been listening continually this week to "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today," the new collaborative CD by Brian Eno and David Byrne. And these days, it takes extraordinary music to hold my attention.

All I know of Byrne is his work on three Talking Heads albums: "Remain in Light," "Speaking in Tongues" and "Little Creatures." To tell the truth, I thought he was getting a little full of himself during that time and stopped listening to the Heads. I've been listening to Eno, though, since 1975, when he started releasing solo albums after leaving Roxy Music. He's better known as a producer: It's no coincidence that U2's popularity exploded after Eno began producing them. Before that, the same thing could have been said of the Talking Heads. Coldplay tracked him down to produce their last record and, from what I've been told, will work with him on their next one.

The new record is very much a meeting of musical minds. Byrne's influence tones down Eno's frequent sonic forays into near-weirdness, while Eno is a songwriter of such gravity that he keeps Byrne from flying away from music into the realm of performance. The result is a record where 1+1=3, or maybe 4.

Songs like "I Feel My Stuff" and "Strange Overtones" bounce along in that quirky groove that marked the Heads' best work, but Eno's remarkable ability to "treat" instruments gives those songs a distinct, fresh sound. Eno is particularly talented in using guitars to almost-percussive effect or to provide a thick, crawling foundation for a melody, and he tweaks pianos to achieve unconventional objectives. Other songs tap into the current of joy: "One Fine Day," with its exuberant, multivoiced chorus, would be perfectly at home during an ecumenical celebration, as would the title track. Still other songs are quietly reflective, yet awash in Eno's atmospheric instrumentation.

Each of the songs is innovative and inventive, and collectively, this disc rewards repeat listenings. It is easily Eno's most accessible work, and Byrne is an equal partner in the project: in fact, Eno wrote all of the music and Byrne wrote all of the lyrics. But that strategy takes the best part of each man's formidable talent and blends them into something that neither could produce on his own. It is a captivating record.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Pat, Agreeing you 100% about Eno, I'm still a big fan of Byrne. Something off the radar is a song Byrne covered last year for an HBO show, Big Love. He covered "Blue Hawaii," and it is the best version of that song I have ever heard. You can find his cover over on i-Tunes, but nowhere else.

Dec. 6th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
You would really like this disc, Jeff. Musically, Eno throws in bits of stuff he was doing as far back as "Here Come the Warm Jets" and "Taking Tiger Mountain," as well as pieces from his last solo CD, "Another Day on Earth." But those are things only fans would recognize. I was a little leery of his working with Byrne, but Byrne really brings a lot to the project; his contributions are strong. The fact that Byrne wrote all the lyrics makes this a far better disc than it would have been if it were a solo Eno project, and the fact that Eno wrote all the music elevates Byrne's artistry. There's not a bad song on the record.

Thanks for commenting. There aren't many Eno fans out there!
Dec. 6th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, I already have it and have already listened to it a couple of times. I put it on my waterproof i-Pod and listened to it when I was surfing the other day, and probably am the only person ever in the history of the planet to listen to Eno while surfing.

I look at anything new from Brian Eno like it's the 2nd coming.

Dec. 6th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
Eno and surfing: sounds like a great combination. It's a long way from the Beach Boys ...
Dec. 6th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Although I happen to like some of the Beach Boys, they could never be described as the music that real surfers listened to. The Beach Boys did play well in Peoria. Most surfers in the 60's listened to Dick Dale, like many of today's surfers in their 20's listen to Jack Johnson.....both of those guys surf.

Dec. 6th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
Jeff Miers review of the show at UB on 11/28 was great, and apparently it was sold-out, which is quite something.
Dec. 6th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, no: what show?
Dec. 7th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Jeff Miers review

(let's see how my link abilities work)

Edited at 2008-12-07 01:07 am (UTC)
Dec. 7th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I'm relieved it was just Byrne; if I had missed the two of them, I would have been disconsolate until Candlemas.
Dec. 7th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC)
I am totally diggin' the album.

Little Creatures is one of my favorite albums from the 80s. All my friends in high school thought I was weird for listening to the Talking Heads.
Dec. 7th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'd forgotten how good a record "Little Creatures" was until I started buying some tunes from "Remain in Light" and wound up buying big chunks of both records. I'm glad to hear you like the new disc.
Jan. 6th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
you sound really into this guy...
He seems like something good to listen to
That also sounds like a great amount of team work.
Well, I'll give them a listen..

Jan. 6th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
A cellist from El Paso? Cool. Eno collaborated with John Cale (who plays cello) on a record called "One Way Up" in 1990. It's a very good record, very good. You might want to check it out.

The CD with Eno and Byrne really is a wonderful disc. I'm not going to call Eno a genius (Mozart was a genius; Beethoven was a genius), but in a lot of his work he is years ahead, musically, of what's coming. On the last Coldplay disc, for example, I hear things that Eno was doing more than 30 years ago, and they still sound fresh. They sure must have sounded fresh to Coldplay, or the album wouldn't sound the way it did.

Now, as for your blog: just three entries since its inception? That's not nearly enough. If you're going to be a musician, you have to write, too, because those two vastly different forms of expression have a lot in common. It could be argued that mathematics is a big part of both of them. So, writing will help your music, and vice versa.

I'm going to add you to my friends list, so let's start seeing some entries!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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