Sunday, March 23, 2008

Seminal Found Sounds

Brian Eno and David Byrne, Help me Somebody, from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, 1981

This record was so ahead of its time in, among other things, its rhythmic-instrumental manipulation of "found" sounds and voice samples (in particular its mesmerizing use of charismatic evangelical sermons, such as here--listening to the record again I'm struck by one track which offers a fascinating critique of the sort of nationalist wealth and prosperity evangelism that is now far more advanced than it was back then) that there is a lag of years between its release and the (now) widespread use of its innovations. I find it hard to believe it's been that long since I first heard it and asked myself, "what in the hell is this?" Not for everyone, perhaps, but I can't get enough of this sort of thing.

Help me somebody
There's no escape from it
It's a big thing,
It's a small thing,

The album's title is the name of a novel by Nigerian author Amos Tutuola. This is the Wikipedia article on the book, in its entirety:

This novel recounts the fate of mortals who stray into the world of ghosts. The 'bush' is in the heart of the tropical forest, an impenetrable thicket left even after the rest of the forest is cleared for cultivation. Here, as every hunter and traveler knows, mortals venture at great peril, and it is here that a small boy is left alone.

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