Fresh off of his tour kickoff in Trumpland, David Byrne was back in his hometown yesterday to make an appearance at the Sonos Store in Soho, where he talked about how Brian Eno propelled his new album, American Utopia. Eno also has an album on the horizon: His Music For Installations box set is due out May 4, it was announced today.
In a conversation with Rita Houston of WFUV, Byrne recalled how he visited his friend and collaborator, Eno, in London, and listened to some drum tracks Eno had been working on. “I really liked them,” Byrne said. “They used some kind of algorithm– algorithms are everywhere these days– that makes it sound a little more human. And I thought, ‘That’s pretty great, what are you going to do with these?'”
Byrne decided to try to write for the beats and found that “they turned into songs very quickly.” (Ten or more of them, he recently told Uproxx.) With a laugh, he recalled how in the case of one of the songs, he “started doing the lyrics and it came out as maybe a little bit of my typical yelp that I used to do more than I do now. But then I could kind of croon a little bit on the choruses.”
Later on, Byrne sent working versions of his songs around and Mattis With, his friend at the London-based label, Young Turks, suggested he collaborate with other artists. “We got all these different tracks back, all these interpretations of the songs, almost like remixes; multiple ones of the same song, often.” Byrne ended up combining bits and pieces of those tracks into what he described as a “hodge-podge, cut-and-paste version that might have three or four people’s interpretations in one song.”
Among the artists Byrne ended up collaborating with are Isaiah Barr (ONYX Collective), Dev Hynes, Sampha, Alex Epton (XXXChange), Nathan Jenkins (Bullion), Dan Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), and Airhead. Byrne has posted a playlist of them, along with more about the making of the album, here.
Though the new album is said to be “based on original tracks” by Eno, Byrne didn’t always end up incorporating those tracks into the finished songs. “Sometimes, although they were the initial inspiration, some of Brian’s rhythms are not there,” he told the intimate gathering at the Sonos Store. “But those are often what inspired the writing in the first place.”
And so, even if Eno is credited with playing “Robot Rhythm Guitar” on “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” the album isn’t being billed as a Eno-Byrne joint effort along the lines of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Byrne has told Uproxx: “At some point Brian said, ‘I think these are yours now. It’s not a joint collaboration anymore.’ Not that he didn’t influence them to an incredible degree, but he was saying, ‘You have taken charge of these now.’”
As for Eno, the producer and ambient-music pioneer’s new one, Music For Installations, is described as “new, rare and previously unreleased music, all of which was recorded by Brian Eno for use in his installations covering the period from 1986 until the present and beyond.” It’s being released as a 9-LP vinyl box set with 64-page book and download card. There’ll be two versions of the CD release: a regular 6-CD box set with the 64-page book, and a limited, numbered edition with that and a download card. All of the music– produced for his audiovisual installations at the Venice Biennale, Sydney Opera House, and elsewhere– will be available on vinyl for the first time.
Here’s the track list:
Track list:Music From Installations (previously unreleased):01: ‘Kazakhstan’Premiered at the Asif Khan-designed installation ‘We Are Energy’ in the UK Pavilion at Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan.02: ‘The Ritan Bells’Premiered at an installation by Eno at Ritan Park in Beijing, China as part of the British Council’s ‘Sound in the City’ series, 2005.03: ‘Five Light Paintings’Premiered at an installation by Eno called ‘Pictures Of Venice’ at the Gallerie Cavallino, in Venice, Italy, 1985.04: ‘Flower Bells’Premiered at an installation by Eno called ‘Light Music’ at the Castello Svevo in Bari, Italy, 2017.‘77 Million Paintings’ (previously unreleased):01: ‘77 Million Paintings’Premiered at the inaugural exhibition of ‘77 Million Paintings’ at La Foret Museum Tokyo, Japan, 2006.‘Lightness – Music For The Marble Palace’ (previously only available as a limited-run CD, via Enostore only):01: ‘Atmospheric Lightness’02: ‘Chamber Lightness’Premiered at the Eno installation ‘Lightness in the Marble Palace’ at The State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, 1997.‘I Dormienti’ / ‘Kite Stories’ (previously only available as separate limited run CDs, via Enostore only):01: ‘I Dormienti’Premiered at an eponymous installation by the Italian sculptor Mimmo Paladino at The Undercroft of The Roundhouse in London, 1999.02: ‘Kites I’03: ‘Kites II’04: ‘Kites III’Premiered at an installation by Brian Eno at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland, 1999.‘Making Space’ (limited-run CD previously only available at Eno installations and on the Lumen website):01: ‘Needle Click’02: ‘Light Legs’03: ‘Flora and Fauna’ / ‘Gleise 581d’04: ‘New Moons’05: ‘Vanadium’06: ‘All The Stars Were Out’07: ‘Hopeful Timean Intersect’08: ‘World Without Wind’09: ‘Delightful Universe (seen from above)’Compiled by Eno for sale exclusively at his installations, this was first made available while guest artistic director of the Brighton Festival, 2010.‘Music For Future Installations’ (previously unreleased):01: ‘Unnoticed Planet’02: ‘Liquidambar’03: ‘Sour Evening (Complex Heaven 3)’04: ‘Surbahar Sleeping Music’