Review Summary: A frantic vision of a feverish ritual, David Byrne and Brian Eno's collaboration creates a hallucinatory labyrinth through rhythmic occultism.
Brian Eno and Robert Fripp experimented with a minimal hybrid of avant-garde and traditional sonorities. Their seminal album "No Pussyfooting" was considered a vibrant document of musical mystery. Seven years after "No Pussyfooting", Brian Eno returned with a new collaboration, this time with David Byrne, aiming for the complete fusion of Middle Eastern and African sonorities with an echoic electronic touch. The project’s result, occultly named "My life in the bush of ghosts," remains a journey in the realm of a mystic ambient that influenced a significant suite of artists, from Paul Simon to Peter Gabriel.
"My life in the bush of ghosts" is not a comfortable experience, but it works as a trip to the center of the musical essence, resembling an obscure ray that enlightens a tonal universe. It is not a classic ambient album because the music does not conform fully to the ambient's meaning, begging for the listener's full attention and paying off after multiple listens.
From the very first notes of "America Is Waiting," the fusion between the musical personalities of Brian Eno and David Byrne sounds colorful and homogenous, their orientations creating a magnificent blend. David Byrne’s exalted musical vision has an distinct expressive power due to the musical backing provided by Brian Eno’s absolute mastery which gives the entire album a balanced sound. The rhythms and the ambiguous melodic lines create the same artificial relaxation provided by "Remain in Light," but here that genius commercial touch is missing, being replaced by a dissonant parade of beats, samples, African drums, and a hallucinatory accordion breath. The beginning makes it clear that the album doesn’t respect the beautiful ambient palette that made "Music for Airplanes" so popular worldwide, opting instead for the portrait of an African magical ritual. Musical wizardry and strange hypnosis make "Mea Culpa," "Regiment," and "Help me, somebody" the accompanying soundtrack for an incursion into the dark sounds of an unknown world.
When "The Jezebel Spirit" begins, the feeling of the unknown is amplified, and the music deepens more and more into the the hidden spell that accompanies the record. The pause provoked by the end of side A becomes hard to bear because we find the musical darkness so comforting that we perceive the moment when we are left without music as an abrupt collision with reality. It's similar to the sensation experienced by someone who has spent days in darkness and then suddenly comes into the sunlight. It’s a dissonant coming down. Even if we aren't fully convinced about the music's quality, the chemistry between Eno and Byrne catches us in its web and dominates our feelings and ears like a magical drug.
"My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" juxtaposes the vast musical passages of "Remain In Light" with Brian Eno's engulfing ambient, without falling into Talking Heads' futuristic dance or the overt exclusivism of "Music For Airports". It’s like the finding of that musical balance that will be encountered in many works to come, varying from the sunny "Graceland" to the afro-pop passages of "So". This accomplishment, combined with the unique suggestive power, makes "My Life In The Bush Of Ghost" an album that defies stylistic boundaries and obtains a voice that will never be equaled in the musical décor.
Although difficult at first, it will gain new nuances with numerous spins, with the listener eventually resonating with its dynamic minimalism. Even if the melodic lines may be forgotten shortly afterward, everyone will remember its bewitching atmosphere and will desire to return to its otherworldly charm.