Brian Eno and David Byrne, Back Together Again

27 years after Briano Eno and David Byrne arguably changed pop music, they’ve re-united and produced Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The entire album streams for free, and you can purchase various digital and physical editions ranging from $8.99 to $69.99 for the deluxe edition.

Of course, the first thing that people will talk about is the distribution method: it is released entirely digitally, with options for lossy mp3 and lossless FLAC formats. Of course, the first comparison that people will make is to Radiohead’s distribution system, which is somewhat ironic, since Eno and Byrne arguably followed the Radiohead model when Radiohead has followed Eno and Bynre on so many other things (Radiohead is a song from Talking Heads, while arguably Kid A would have not existed without Brian Eno).

But I hear your asking: but what about the fucking music Mike?! Well, if you are expecting something as groundbreaking as My LIfe in the Bush of Ghosts, you will be let down. This album is definitely not an exercise in experimentation or avant-gardeism. In fact, it is, on the whole, rather “pop” and accessible, but only in a way that two weird genius musicians like David Byrne and Brian Eno can be.

The album itself alternates between what David Byrne has called “the gospel-folk-electronic” and trip-hop-but-not-quite songs: there are more of the former than the latter. And for my money, I definitely prefer the former, because the trip-hop sounding songs just aren’t quite menacing and oppressive enough for my tastes. I mean, sure, Eno plays some pretty cool keyboards on those tracks, but I much prefer the gospel-country-revival songs.

Yet it would be deceptive to call these songs straight up gospel/folk songs, because Brian Eno’s production makes everything shinier, spacier, and weirder. And unlike Spiritualized, whose gospel leanings always seemed to be tinged with an undercurrent of unobtainable redemption, these songs are genuinely joyous. I downloaded the album when I got up at 6 in the morning, put them on my iPod half an hour later, and by the time I was walking on my way to work, the sun was beginning to shine. And right then, “Everything That Happens,” track four of the album, starts to play. The whole song really felt uplifting, and I was walking around with a big grin on my face, the sun rising in the horizon.

Overall, this is just a very happy record, but not in that fake, corny sense: there’s no forced uplift or phony redemptions, just pure, joyous music. It won’t change music the way Eno and Byrne’s first collaboration did, but its warm pleasures are undeniable, and I think this is an album that you can revisit again and again.

And this is not to mention the sound quality of the recordings: in one word, it sounds great. The dynamics, although not the best I’ve heard, are not compressed to death like most modern recordings. The mix is detailed enough that you can pretty much hear everything in the track, even on mp3s. Like the album itself, the recording sounds warm and analog-ish.

So I say you go and buy the album, to support two great musicians and to show that the digital distribution is the model of the future.

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