In the last post, I said that Byrne has a way of incorporating the world around him into his own work. And he doesn’t do it small, quiet ways. Take for examples his Playing the Building series which started in Stockholm, Sweden in 2005. Byrne describes the series as follows:
“Playing the Building is a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.”
Musical may not be the best word to base your expectations off of but it is very large. In 2008 Byrne re-envisioned the installation a the Battery Maritime Building in New York City, and he has just put the finishing touches on the installation at the Roundhouse in London (see above).
These installations produce some fantastic sounds. For example, listen to Robert Gomez’s haunting “Hunting Song” which uses samples taken from the installation in New York.
In the meantime David Byrne is finding new ways to occupy his minimal free time between shuttling back and forth across the pond to work on Playing the Building while touring for his new album Everything That Happens Happens Today, which includes dances choreographed on office chairs.
He has also been heavily involved in the developing indie music scene. His record label Luaka Bop signed Os Mutantes in 2006, a band that was originally formed in 1966, but shut down after 12 years and has now found new legs [download their latest single “Teclar” here].
He has also collaborated recently with The Brighton Port Authority (BPA), Fatboy Slim’s side project that just released their first album I Think We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat (2008). Byrne sings on the song “Toe Jam” also featuring Dizzee Rascal, which is definitely a heavenly pairing. The video for the song, which you can find in the “This Week” section has plenty of nudity – but it’s still kid-friendly due to jolly black bars that dance around the screen with the music. Check it out!
And, perhaps most surprisingly, David Byrne has lent his voice to North America South America (better known as N.A.S.A.) for two songs, “Money” and “The People Tree” for their record The Spirit of Apollo which was released in February of this year. With these songs, it seems that N.A.S.A. has brought out Byrne’s subversive nature once again – something that can be better explained by watching the music videos found in the “This Week” page.
David Byrne is looking as fit as ever and he’s not slowing down. He just released a book called Bicycle Diaries that chronicles his travels and thoughts while biking and designed a series of funky bike racks for NYC. He also had a full-length article in Wired magazine last year about the ins and outs of the music industry. It’s really fascinating and has lots of interesting clips of Byrne talking with people from the industry including Brian Eno. While you’re there, look for his interview with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke from the same issue. And if you have the desire to stalk him even more like a psycho killer you can follow his day-to-day activities in his online journal. Happy hunting!
Oh, and one last thing: