Somewhere last week (July, 4th) in a quest to find an escape from stress, I chanced on an album that I’ve been hooked on since. Thing is, I have had enough of the contemporary R&B and the highly misogynistic and/ the porn of materialism themes of current hip hop. So, chancing on the legendary Brian Eno & Karl Hyde’s collaborative album, HIGH LIFE, with its fresh, original and eclectic sounds was a blessing.
High Life, is a popular music genre of West African origin, birthed in Ghana and spread to other parts of West African coast in the early 50s. The title piqued my interest. Highlife is a 6 track album- two additional songs will be featured on the digital album- replete with cross-cutting sounds. The 43 minutes album is a blend of highlife, pop, rock and electro influences. Brian Eno is a renowned music maverick, an experimentalist who pioneered a new musical sound described as generative music (Generative music is the blending of several independent musical tracks, of varying sounds, length, and in some cases, silence).
Together with Karl Hyde, the front man of music group Underworld, offers listeners something worth their ears. Brian Eno, demonstrate why he is a pioneer of minimalistic music on the enchanting TIME TO WASTE featuring Marianna Champion on vocals. The percussion and guitar riffs and the rising ‘whine’ of the beat plus the buzzing sound near the end of the song is delightful. Karl Hyde dots his distinct voice over the melancholic and haunting CELLS & BELLS which carries a heavy clanking bells and piano tones. It leaves the listener feeling entrapped in a dome.
The album opens with the RETURN, a 9 minute long beat encompassing West African kora sound, thumping drums, electric guitar works gathering momentum before Karl Hyde’s voice streams, singing at a stage and humming as well in a Cold Play fashion. DBF truly defines the album’s title. Sated with original highlife/afrobeats sound which reminds one of the legendary Fela Kuti, interspersed with groovy electro influences and pop tones, one comes to appreciate the splendid fusion of different rhythmns from different regions of the world. DBF will get everyone grooving with its high tempo feel.
On LILAC (9:25), the sound is borrowed from the Sahelian regions of West Africa-the regions around Senegal, Mali, Niger etc. One could hear the sound of their traditional kora reeking through the music. Karl Hyde is heard singing in a choir like fashion. Disco sounds, electric guitar riffs, thumping hip hop beats, turntable works is what surrounds MOULDED, a song which can easily passes as ‘soft’ garage/dance music. The listener can also appreciate the horns on display. What makes Moulded an exciting track is that it reverbs through the body of the listener(s).
Brian Eno’s ingenuity and influence has made him a cult figure, a sought-after producer. Famed musicians/groups such as Cold Play (ViVa La Vida,2007, Mylo Xyloto, 2011), U2, Paul Simon, David Bowie and James Blake (Digital Lion off Overgrown) have sought his creativity. (If you’ve not heard any of his works, the Windows 95 Theme sound is his creation)
High Life is a beautiful record that any lover of music especially colourful beats, will never miss playing or listening to.