1981: Experiments in Sound
In addition to the interest in more avant forms of electronic music in the early eighties, the rock show at WNUR is unique in part for the broad sweep of music qualifying under the ‘rock’ banner. My Life In the bush of Ghosts, though from two musicians solidly within the rock canon, represents a step outside the bounds of traditional rock music and further towards contemporary classical and musique concrète. The notes on the cover of the record are telling of the general reception of the record within the radio station and the divided lines of DJs and music directors through the years. Unfortunately, we have lost the main transcript of the director note either to time or disgruntled DJ. However, from what remains in responding notes, we can hypothesize the initial review was unpopular within the station. The first “as a matter of fact, they’ve NEVER played it not once” is ambiguous in its direction. Is ‘they’ David Byrne and Brian Eno playing live? or is ‘they’ DJs? Perhaps more telling is the other, more faint note that reads “No it isn’t. Listen asshole, if you’ve got nothing constructive to add, just don’t at all.” The ‘constructive’ in this note makes it ambiguous as to whether the initial note was positive or negative, though the fact this record has survived as long as it did points to an overwhelming station positivity about it and the more inaccessible experimental sounds it contains. This all being said, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is still fairly pop-oriented, much of the album contains a steady rhythmic pulse like that on “Mea Culpa,” and compared to some of the later experimental music in the collection, it is merely the tip of the iceberg.