And also: I prefer the original album art and I have no idea why they changed it for the re-release.
I still haven't read the novel that the album was named after; I don't feel that guilty because apparently neither Eno nor Byrne had read it when the album was released either (if you believe Wikipedia).
I agree the original artwork was better - I chose the 25th anniversary artwork to be consistent with the rest of my post / discussion and also because those looking for it would be more likely to see that artwork than the original, I suspect.
And if I see a copy of this on vinyl, especially the original release I will buy it on the spot, guaranteed.
When thinking heavily of what to post as my album of the week, I eventually came to this conclusion: Why not just post my favorite album of all time? This one, I think, is beloved enough as to not be too obscure yet obscure enough to the point that not too many people will have listened to this (I know HG and Friendly mentioned listening to it about a week ago over in the Now Playing thread, and for 2 minutes I had a post pretty much giving away that I was going to choose this, which I soon deleted. Apparently, Know saw this (or is a damn good guesser) and guessed it correctly when PM’ing me reminding me it was my turn). This is the album that I would pick if I were in one of those “deserted island” scenarios and it was my only choice. It has 22 tracks, which, for the most part, is above average, but at the same time, this might be the only album where I refuse to skip a track. I got lucky with this one as I was on a random school-related trip in 11th grade in San Francisco (too long a story to go into) and was released to explore the town. My first stop was Tower Records, and I had to buy something, so I bought this on a whim (I was already a big Pixies fan at the time). Alright, I guess it’s time to cut the foreplay.
I’ll try not to turn this into a masturbatory, grandiose Pitchfork review, but I can’t make any promises.
First, I’d like to pose my theory on this album and want to see if you people agree with me after listening to it. For 9 years, I’ve been listening to this album at least once a month, so I’ve had a lot of times to think of such things.
Theory: I think that Frank Black had been trying to make this album ever since the release of Bossanova. Trompe Le Monde was his initial attempt at making this album. He even used Eric Drew Feldman (famous for his work with Captain Beefheart/Pere Ubu/The Residents) as producer for both Trompe Le Monde and Teenager of the Year. After the release of Trompe Le Monde, he realized he just couldn’t get away with Teenager of the Year in the Pixies format, so he called it quits with the band since it didn’t allow him the freedom he desired to make such an album as Teenager of the Year. So then he went on to release his first self-titled solo album (also great, in my opinion). It got his feet wet, used to his newfound solo freedom, and headed in the right direction. Then, when he was finally comfortable in the position he was in, he could finally release the wonderful work that is Teenager of the Year. [Epilogue of theory: He then got overly cocky in the aftermath and released Cult of Ray (which I actually love almost as much as Teenager of the Year) and the critics panned him for being too much of a sci-fi space freak. So then he moved onto the Americana/Folk-tinged Frank Black and the Catholics and on into a new era (which again, I also love).]
It starts off with the one-two punch of “Whatever Happened to Pong?” and “Thalassocracy”, which both, possibly intentionally, clock in right at 1:33. Only Frank Black could pull of a rockabilly influenced song about being nostalgic for Pong so gracefully. Then “Thalassocracy”, one of my favorites here, both sounds like and rivals early Pixies.
As I write this, I realize that I think of this album in sections. The next section includes “(I Want to Live on an) Abstract Plain”, “Calistan”, “The Vanishing Spies”, “Speedy Marie”, “Headache”, and “Sir Rockaby”. Lyrically-and I don’t really have any facts to back this up-“Abstract Plain” is basically a reiteration and sequel to “Debaser” with his declaration of his desire for that Surrealist culture. With “The Vanishing Spies”, Frank stated in an interview that he “saw the lost Mars probe of ’93, and became lonely when [he] feared there was only sky.” Musically, I think it pretty much mirrors that line of thinking as well, but again, that’s subjective. “Speedy Marie” is a breezy little poppy number about his first wife. My favorite in this section, “Headache” has a wonderful meld of gloom and happy, pop hooks, blended together oh so nicely, and “Sir Rockaby” is another breezy, slightly surf-rocked infused, pop song featuring Joey Santiago on the lead guitar.
Next, is the section wit’ tha deep cutz. I guess you would call this the “centerpiece” of this album, though I still am not completely sure of the definition of this term (help?). It starts with the ever-epic “Freedom Rock” then onto “Two Reelers” which literally is the completely history of the Three Stooges (seriously). Then the sweet groovz of “Fiddle Riddle”, then onto the other “epic” song of the album, “Ole Mulholland”, which is about William Mulholland and how he brought water to Los Angeles from far away sources, which, in turn, allowed the city to grow. (I almost forgot to mention that at this point Frank Black very constantly used Los Angeles as his muse (or so I have read in interviews).) This song includes another favorite characteristic of Frank’s writing, his mixture of cryptic lyrics about obscure moments in history mixed with quirky rock music. It continues onto another quirky rocker, “Fazer Eyes”, another favorite of mine, then closes out with “I Could Stay Here Forever”, another foray into his sci-fi interests.
The album then switches gears into another rocker reminiscent of earlier track “Whatever Happened to Pong?” in “The Hostess With The Mostest”, followed by possibly my favorite track on the album “Superabound” (though trying to pick a favorite track on this album is like picking a favorite child). Then yet another darker, slinky, sci-fi influenced “Big Red” into yet another favorite “Space Is Gonna Do Me Good” which includes more of the lovely cryptic lyrics and a brief reference to Ray Bradbury (which he does a lot. The Cult of Ray, the following album, is literally named after him). Then this section closes out with “White Noise Maker”.
The final section is, at it’s basest level, a reprise of the first section, with 3 short rock bursts, all of which again feature Joey Santiago on the guitar, introduced with “Pure Denizen of the Citizens Band”. Then, there’s “Bad, Wicked World”. “Bad, Wicked World” is about "The Invaders" television show. It starred architect David Vincent, who learned of an alien invasion and travelled all over trying to warn the planet. The aliens were distinguishable from humans by a lack of pulse and more notably pinky fingers that did not bend. Then, finally, Frank sends you off into the final frontier and leaves you with “Pie In The Sky”
My personal favorite tracks, in track order: “Thalassocracy”, “Fazer Eyes”, “Superabound”, and “Space Is Gonna Do Me Good”.
Before you listen to the album itself, I recommend getting a good taste with this TV performance of the first 3 tracks in quick succession. It’s a great introduction:
before anybody else goes there, in with a "too long didn't read"
Man, I read every word. You did a great review. Also I fucking love this album (well anything Frank Black/Pixies related) when I get some time I will do a review ( along with the back log of reviews I still need to do.) great pick Lumps.
So very late in joining the party here, but I've been slowly writing out little reviews for each album. Thanks everyone for picking such interesting albums so far. This has very easily turned into my favourite thread to read on this board!
N.A.S.A (I kinda nerded out on this one):
Ok, so I made a huge mistake and listened to this album the first few times while working. I was about to dismiss it as nothing more than something fun to have on in the background when I decided to give it one more close listen, and I'm glad I did. It turns out this album is a lot more than just a bunch of random collaborations between artists of different genres, but rather a musical essay on human existence (and a nice, geeky treat for the English major in me).
I found the theme made for a great flow from track to track, still keeping the album as a cohesive unit despite each track being by different artists. I really enjoyed the game of trying to figure out which element of "being human" each track was going to be about, and some of the topics were presented in a very refreshing way. One of the more interesting turns I thought was "The People Tree" and "Money"; each track evokes a different concept of the beginning of human existence -- space, time and evolution, and the bible (with money as a modern god), respectively -- the juxtaposition of which made for a great start to this album. However, eventually the concept became tiresome, and I think the album would've been stronger had a few tracks been cut.
The "Intro" spews some arrogant statements: apparently they're gonna "transcend preconceived divisions" and the listener is going to witness "[N.A.S.A] create together breaking boundaries / And borders set for us by society." I think they succeeded. The range of topics covered-- existence, spaces and places, language, movement, sound, need, etc.-- serve to break down all boundaries between us, showing that at the core of it all, we're all connected. Mixing artists from different genres together definitely achieve this musically. And as someone who rarely listens to any sort of rap or hip-hop, I left this album feeling like they'd created a hip-hop album for people who don't like hip-hop. This one's definitely gonna stay in my rotation for a while.
Some stand-out tracks: Money (all about David Byrne in this one for me); Strange Enough (hooked on that hook); Gifted (loved the female voices in this one)
This album took me a bit to fully get into it. From the first listen, "Meg Ryan" definitely grabbed my attention so I wasn't willing to give up on it. It took some work from me, but I've ended up having a lot of fun with this one.
I love all the different sounds thrown at me. Instead of overwhelming or just "too much", they've managed to find a great balance that keeps me interested in what's gonna happen next. One thing I did figure out fast was this one works best for me when listened to through headphones-- I end up missing too much if I listen at work or in the car, and it's just not as satisfying then. There's definitely a nineties feel, giving it a nostalgic air even though it's completely new to me. Overall, I think it's a pretty solid album, even though I took a while to warm up to it.
"Meg Ryan" remains the stand-out track for me-- it's turned into my "song of the summer". My other faves are definitely "Suzie Q Sailaway" and "Breakfast with Girls".
My absolute favourite so far!! As soon as I heard the child at the beginning of the first track I just knew I was gonna love this one. This album just makes so me feel so happy and calm and peaceful every time I listen to it. I look forward to putting it on. Lately, I've been throwing it on as I head into work and it just sets me up to be in a great frame of mind, making my shifts so much more bearable these days.
When I first saw that it was 22 tracks long, I was a little worried that it might get long-winded. I do find I sometimes chune out about half-way through but I also chune back in at different points each time too, so each listening experience so far has been different. Also, the tracks seem to blend so when I think it's only been one song, it's been 2 or 3, or the opposite will happen. Maybe some people would find those negative points against the album, but for me it's just strengthening my love for it.
Standouts are a little harder to pinpoint 'cause of the blending, but I absolutely love "Diary of Wood" every single time. Also the section "Days to Come (in Photographs)" through to "Should a Cloud Replace a Compass?". And the opening track "Yesterday's World" which has ended up perfectly filling a missing spot I had on a playlist I've been working on for a while.
Post by know ID yuh on Aug 8, 2011 18:30:04 GMT -8
Schedule: 1. N.A.S.A. - Spirit of Apollo (know ID yuh) 2. Slint - Spiderland (cbats) 3. Circulatory System - Circulatory System (drew) 4. The Lowest of the Low - Shakespeare My Butt...(bradberad) 5. Self - Breakfast With Girls (stormypinkness) 6. Brian Eno/David Byrne - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (J-Dawg) 7. Frank Black - Teenager Of The Year (lumpy) 8/14 (wompwomp) 8/21 (Comeswithasword) 8/28 (friendlyD) 9/4 (HornedGramma) 9/11 (Rustneversleeps) 9/18 (Geno) 9/25 (EMptY) 10/2 (Souly) 10/9 (blacksmile) 10/16 (Stamper) 10/23 (Catsquatch)
Schedule has been updated.
Nice review Lumps. It's fun writing long posts here and there, right?
Kymess, you want in on this? Even if your post count is low, it looks like you are in the spirit of the thread.
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts...what to say, what to say. As mentioned earlier on, I have a group of friends at work and we all choose a song each week, listen to it and critique it. A couple of people are huge Brian Eno fans and one is a big Talking Heads fan. Until recently I had not had much exposure to either, but over the last few months I have listened to a few songs from each. Every Brian Eno track put forth sounds different from the last. Some I've liked, "King's Lead Hat" from Before and After Science and some I've hated, "Spinning Away" from Wrong Way Up. But I digress, my point being that I had no idea what to expect from this album.
This album is 100% fucking strange. The title says it all. It's haunting, distant and gives the listener the feeling of being lost in an unknown land full of characters straight out of a David Lynch film. Due it's rich textures, odd ambient noises and distorted mix of singing and spoken word it was definitely a tough listen, yet somewhat compelling. Did I like it? Not Really. Did I hate it? Not really. I found it to be a little disturbing and creepy, but there was something about the album that makes me want to revisit it again, just not anytime soon.
The standout track for me was the schizo tribal stomp of "Mea Culpa". The prize for the scariest tracks go to "Mountain of Needles" and "Come With Us".
I wouldn't be surprised if you are picturing me peeling a carrot with a staple gun.