Electric gospel

Pub date September 30, 2008
WriterKevin Lee
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW As I find myself in another part of the world, I ask myself, "How did I get here?" Then I realize everything’s same as it ever was, and that I need to get this piece in at some sort of reasonable hour.

But seriously, Talking Heads’ "Once in a Lifetime" was synthesizer rock glory. On NPR’s "All Things Considered," the band recalled becoming "human samplers" while making "Once in a Lifetime," back when hip-hop was in its genesis and sampling wasn’t even a method. Rather than write their songs first and play later, singer-songwriter David Byrne, composer-producer Brian Eno, and the band would improvise, manually repeat the layers they liked, then stack those layers on top of each other until they got the finished result.

Byrne and Eno would repeat this approach on their own collaboration in 1981, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Nonesuch). Percussion-heavy and Afrobeat-oriented, Ghosts provided a vivid look into combinations of international rhythms and sampled vocals, inspiring producers like Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy and Moby.

The pair reconnected during the 25th anniversary rerelease of Ghosts, and surmised that the world could handle another collaborative effort; Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todo Mundo, 2008) is the result.

Even "as the days go by," Byrne and Eno demonstrate that their musical bond resonates, even if they are sending their snippets and works-in-progress via e-mail. For the most part, Eno opts for straightforward rock riffs with some traditional folk chord structures and a trademark smattering of electronic, atmospheric effects. Byrne follows Eno through these uplifting melodies and, in typical fashion, lends vocal harmony, depth, and variation, raising the cadence, complementing and augmenting Eno’s production. If this is "electronic gospel," as both proclaim, here’s to preaching to the choir.

DAVID BYRNE Mon/6, 8 p.m., $59.50–$89.50. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF. (415) 621-6600, www.davidbyrne.com