Although best known for his groundbreaking tenure fronting the new wave group Talking Heads, David Byrne also received acclaim for his adventurous solo career, encroaching upon such diverse media as world music, filmmaking, and performance art in the process. Here today some of his Aetix work.....N'Joy
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David Byrne was born in Dumbarton, Scotland, to parents Tom (from Lambhill, Glasgow) and Emma. He was the elder of two children. Two years later, his parents moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and then to Arbutus, Maryland, in the United States, when he was 8 or 9 years old. His father worked as an electronics engineer. His mother, Emma Byrne, died on 25 June 2014. Before high school, Byrne already knew how to play the guitar, accordion, and violin. He was rejected from his middle school's choir because they claimed he was "off-key and too withdrawn". From a young age, he had a strong interest in music. His parents say that he would constantly play his phonograph from age three and he learned how to play the harmonica at age five. In his journals he says, "I was a peculiar young man—borderline Asperger's, I would guess"
Byrne started his musical career in a high school duo named Bizadi with Mark Kehoe. Their repertoire consisted mostly of songs such as "April Showers", "96 Tears", "Dancing on the Ceiling", and Frank Sinatra songs. Byrne then attended the Rhode Island School of Design (during the 1970–71 term) and the Maryland Institute College of Art (during the 1971–72 term) before dropping out and forming a band called "The Artistics" with fellow RISD student Chris Frantz. The band dissolved within a year and the two moved to New York together with Frantz's girlfriend Tina Weymouth. Unable to find a bass player in New York, Frantz and Byrne persuaded Weymouth to learn to play the bass guitar.
After changing the name of the band to Talking Heads and enlisting onetime Modern Lover Jerry Harrison, the group signed to Sire Records. A series of LPs, including the debut Talking Heads '77, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food, and 1980's Remain in Light followed, establishing the quartet as one of contemporary music's most visionary talents. During a band sabbatical in 1981, Byrne teamed up with Brian Eno, the producer of much of the Heads' work, for the collaborative effort My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, a complex, evocative album that fused electronic music with Third World percussion and hypnotic vocal effects. That same year, Byrne also began exploring theater with the composition of The Complete Score From the Broadway Production of "The Catherine Wheel," a dance piece choreographed by Twyla Tharp.
Byrne's next solo work appeared in 1985 with The Knee Plays, a New Orleans brass band-influenced project composed for a portion of Robert Wilson's theatrical epic CIVIL warS. In 1986, Byrne wrote, starred in, and directed the feature film True Stories, a series of comic vignettes based on press clippings culled from tabloid publications like the Weekly World News. He also wrote and produced the majority of music for the film's score in addition to performing his usual duties for that year's Talking Heads LP, also named True Stories. In 1988, he wrote the score to the Jonathan Demme comedy Married to the Mob and, in tandem with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su, won an Academy Award for his musical work on Bernardo Bertolucci's historical epic The Last Emperor.
Also in 1988, Byrne's fascination with world music -- a longtime influence on his herky-jerky performance style as well as Talking Heads' complex polyrhythms -- inspired him to form his own record label, Luaka Bop, to give widespread American release to global music. That same year, the Heads released Naked, their final proper LP, leaving Byrne to give his full attention to solo endeavors. He resurfaced in 1989 with Rei Momo, a song collection inspired by Latin rhythms, and also directed the documentary Ile Aiye (The House of Life), which focused on the rituals of Yoruban dance music. In 1991, he again collaborated with Robert Wilson on The Forest, writing music for a full orchestra.
1992's Uh-Oh marked Byrne's return to more conventional rock performance, a direction he continued with a self-titled album issued in 1994. Feelings, recorded with members of Morcheeba and Devo, followed in 1997. Four years later, Look into the Eyeball was issued on Virgin Records/Luaka Bop and captured Byrne's signature wry humor and musical diversity. In 2003, Byrne's music for the film Young Adam (featuring members of Belle & Sebastian and Mogwai) was released as Lead Us Not into Temptation by Thrill Jockey. Grown Backwards, his first disc for the Nonesuch label, appeared a year later. In 2007, the ever-busy Byrne released a CD/DVD version of The Knee Plays that featured the 12 original tracks along with eight demos and outtakes. Big Love: Hymnal, containing material composed for the HBO series Big Love, appeared in 2008; Byrne and Eno reunited for his eighth album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008). He assembled a band to tour worldwide for the album for a six-month period from late 2008 through early 2009 on the Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno Tour.
David Byrne's next project proved to be another collaborative album, this one created with the assistance of British DJ Fatboy Slim. Released in early 2010, Here Lies Love was a concept album about former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos and her controversial love life. Over 20 guest vocalists appeared on the eclectic record, including Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wainwright, Sharon Jones, and Santigold. Byrne's next big project was another collaboration, this time with St. Vincent's Annie Clark, the Dap-Kings, Antibalas and producer John Congleton. Love This Giant arrived in September 2012.
Byrne has contributed songs to five AIDS benefit compilation albums produced by the Red Hot Organization: Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter, Red Hot + Rio, Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin, Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon, and Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip. In 2002, he co-wrote and provided vocals for a track, "Lazy" by X-Press 2, which reached number 2 in the United Kingdom and number 1 on the US Dance Charts.
Byrne founded the world music record label Luaka Bop in 1990. It was originally created to release Latin American compilations, but it has grown to include music from Cuba, Africa, the Far East and beyond, releasing the work of artists such as Cornershop, Os Mutantes, Los De Abajo, Jim White, Zap Mama, Tom Zé, Los Amigos Invisibles and King Chango. In 2005, Byrne initiated his own internet radio station, Radio David Byrne. Each month, Byrne posts a playlist of music he likes, linked by themes or genres. Byrne's playlists have included African popular music, country music classics, Vox Humana, classical opera, and film scores from Italian movies. Byrne is also a visual artist whose work has been shown in contemporary art galleries and museums around the world since the 1990s. Represented by the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York, he has also created public art installations, many of them anonymously. In 2010 his original artwork was in the exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Byrne is known for his activism in support of increased cycling and for having used a bike as his main means of transport throughout his life, especially cycling around New York. He has a regular cycling column in the New York Times and does not own a car. Byrne says that he began cycling while he was in high school and returned to it as an adult in the late 1970s. He likes the freedom and exhilaration cycling gives him. He has written widely on cycling, including a 2009 book, Bicycle Diaries. In 2008, Byrne designed a series of bicycle parking racks in the form of image outlines corresponding to the areas in which they were located, such as a dollar sign for Wall Street and an electric guitar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Byrne worked with a manufacturer that constructed the racks in exchange for the ability to sell them later as art. The racks remained on the streets for about a year.
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The soundtrack to a masterful collaboration between Twyla Tharp and David Byrne. A piece of episodic dance presenting the disintegration of a nuclear family, with role-plays from The Leader & 7-piece Chorus, with The Mother, The Father, The Brother, The Sister, The Maid, The Pet & The Poet acting out the seventeen scenarios in mime and dance. This enacted within a stark, shadow-lit set of wires, pulleys and wheels against a draped backdrop - with a huge symbolic pineapple, used as a device representative of 'The Bomb'.
Byrne's musical pieces, commissioned by Tharp (who directed the work for BBC TV) are an excellent fit to the rhythm of the work. His lyrical observations are much an extension on his direction with Talking Heads, Byrne's score is always interesting and frequently brilliant; it draws on the instrumental talents of such session greats as drummer Yogi Horton, percussionist John Chernoff, guitarist Adrian Belew (who had been recording and touring as a sideman with Talking Heads), and, inevitably, Eno. Horton's drumming establishes a muscular funk foundation for much of the material, which also showcases Byrne's underrated guitar playing.
For 'Head' fans, the best two numbers I would suggest as an intro to this album are "My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks)" and "Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)". Definitely stuff to dance to, with "both doors open..." More highlights of the program include "The Red House," with its eerie use of deconstructed vocal samples, and the lovely faux-juju "Ade." Highly recommended.
David Byrne - The Catherine Wheel (flac 393mb)
01 Light Bath 1:09
02 His Wife Refused 4:31
03 Adé 3:22
04 Walking 0:52
05 Two Soldiers 3:31
06 Under The Mountain 0:53
07 Dinosaur 2:36
08 The Red House 3:17
09 Wheezing 3:12
10 Eggs In A Briar Patch 3:31
11 Poison 2:31
12 Cloud Chamber 2:50
13 Black Flag 2:29
14 My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks) 2:46
15 Combat 2:45
16 Leg Bells 2:40
17 The Blue Flame 3:25
18 Big Business 5:06
19 Dense Beasts 3:11
20 Five Golden Sections 2:53
21 What A Day That Was 5:30
22 Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open) 4:43
23 Light Bath 1:10
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'Music For The Knee Plays' is a series of rhythmic brass-oriented vignettes and lyrics by David Byrne, 'jointing' an eight-hour choreographic work, based upon Robert Wilson's concept "The Civil Wars". This work was originally intended to be performed at the LA Olympic Arts Festival but, due to the length of the work, only certain sections were performed there. The entire piece consists of fifteen central scenes within five acts and was broadly staged in its complete form at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, April 1984.
The seeds of Byrne's work on "The Knee Plays" began in Tokyo with choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi and set-designer Jun Matsuno. The rhythmic backbone to the pieces began life as Kabuki-style drumming in a minimalist stage setting, akin to a Noh drama. However, with a typically inspired Byrne twist, influenced by the repetitive New-Orleans funk-beat of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, he traded Japanese drum rhythms for Dixieland brass beats. The pieces were shaped around a series of captioned drawings provided by Wilson, an example of which can be seen on the cover as "A tree is best measured when it is down".
Stripped of its third dimension of dance and synchronized movement "Music For The Knee Plays" is an album that takes on an almost hypnotic life of its own, with the repetitive patterns of Byrne's astute spoken lyrics cutting through a melodic kaleidoscope of shifting brass and bass-drum rhythms. A work that would not be out of place at an upbeat and funky New Orleans-style funeral in the orderly street bustle of Japan. The CD issue, simply titled "The Knee Plays", has some tracks from the vinyl retitled and contains eight bonus tracks together with a DVD soundtrack slideshow of photographs from the earlier performance.
David Byrne - The Knee Plays (flac 399mb)
01 Tree (Today Is An Important Occasion) 4:07
02 In The Upper Room 3:40
03 The Sound Of Business 6:20
04 Social Studies 4:59
05 (The Gift Of Sound) Where The Sun Never Goes Down 2:37
06 Theadora Is Dozing 3:04
07 Admiral Perry 5:32
08 I Bid You Goodnight 2:55
09 Things To Do (I've Tried) 3:27
10 Winter 6:26
11 Jungle Book 3:43
12 In The Future 6:35
13 Tree (Reprise) 2:36
14 I've Tried (Things To Do) 3:28
15 Tic Toc 2 (In The Future) 5:36
16 Whisper 3:17
17 Misterias 2:42
18 Faust Dance 2:18
19 Ghost 3:24
20 Super Natural 2:56
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On his first full-fledged solo album, rich latin-hued music dominates the entire album. The fun never lets up until the meditative and insect-accompanied 'I Know Sometimes A Man is Wrong' closes the party. Byrne indulges his fascination with Latin and South American musical styles, employing a variety of native musicians but mixing up the sounds to suit his own distinctly non-purist vision and singing over the tracks the same kind of witty, oddball lyrics found on Talking Heads albums. David Byrne fans will recognize his style in every song, regardless of the musical tone. Though the off-kilter 'Independence Day' may initially throw some listeners for a loop. Give it time, give it time. The energy never lets up. From 'Independence Day's' beautiful and surprising violin solo the beats roll and tumble at you, inspiring wiggly behavior humans often associate with dancing and joy. This is a very musically happy album. Dance.
Inspired by the South American pop Byrne featured on his Luaka-Bop albums (The 'Brazil Classics' series, Tom Zé, etc.), 'Rei Momo' explodes with horns, shakers, graters, congas, plucky guitars, sprightly piano, violins, the occassional Portugese phrase, open-throated wailing, and even Celia Cruz. Despite the influence David Byrne permeates this album. It remains and will always be an amazing effort and a great album from start to finish.
David Byrne - Rei Momo (flac 387mb)
01 Independence Day (Cumbia) 5:45
02 Make Believe Mambo (Orisa) 5:23
03 The Call Of The Wild (Merengue) 4:55
04 Dirty Old Town (Mapeyé) 4:12
05 The Rose Tattoo (Bomba / Mozambique) 3:50
06 Loco De Amor (Salsa / Reggae) 3:51
07 The Dream Police (Cha Cha Cha) 3:00
08 Don't Want To Be Part Of Your World (Samba) 4:55
09 Marching Through The Wilderness (Charanga) 4:30
10 Good And Evil (Rumba / Llesa) 4:35
11 Lie To Me (Merengue) 3:40
12 Office Cowboy (Samba) 3:40
13 Women Vs. Men (Bolero) 4:06
14 Carnival Eyes (Mapeyé) 4:04
15 I Know Sometimes A Man Is Wrong 3:11
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Musicians had previously used similarly sampling techniques, but never before had it been used "to such cataclysmic effect" as on My Life. It was recorded entirely with analogue technology, before the advent of digital sequencing and MIDI. As such it became the first landmark sampling album. Drawing on funk and world music (particularly the multi-layered percussion of African music), My Life is similar to Talking Heads' music of the same era. Previously posted Celebrate Aetix 1 Apr 29, 2009 not to be missed,
Eno and Byrne - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (now in flac 384mb)
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