Speaking of Brazil and David Byrne's collaborators, Brian Eno was on an inspirational trip to the land of caipirinha. "Recently I was in São Paulo, the most city-ish city in the Western world," Eno said. "I took lots of pictures of the forest, and then, back in London, started playing with the images in Photoshop. As I was playing I was listening to this album (in shuffle mode, highly recommended ) and I realized I was crafting the images and the colors to match up with what I was hearing. So that's how the cover images came about." He is talking about Drums Between the Bells, his second album for experimental electronic label Warp Records. Something of a spoken-word/ambient hybrid, the record is very different from last year's label debut, Small Craft on a Milk Sea, with Eno's soundscapes now serving as the setting for evocative texts by Rick Holland. The project has been in the making since the two artists' first encounter in 2003.
Moreover, this strange album is the second Eno collaboration to be released in a matter of weeks. "Brian Eno is 'Brian Eno' for a reason. He has a great mind when it comes to music. He adds new dimensions to the sound. He showed me new ways of opening up the sound I'd never have thought of on my own." That statement comes from none other than Seun Kuti, Fela's younger son, who is touring the world with a jumping version of his father's Egypt 80 big band. "A lot of the work I did with Talking Heads was very much affected by Fela," Eno told The Telegraph last year. "And Seun's band is really incredible, 18 people onstage. When I first heard Fela onstage I thought, 'This is the music of the future,' and I still think it's true. Decades ago, I went into a record shop and bought a copy of Fela's Afrodisiac  and my life changed. It was totally thrilling. Fela was the greatest West African bandleader — just as important as James Brown was in Western culture — and it was great that two of his sons separately formed bands. Anyone who has an interest in music will connect with them."
Now Eno has co-produced Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80's From Africa With Fury: Rise, a crisp, bouncing protest album that couldn't be more different from the electronic bucolic meditations of Drums Between the Bells. Both enthusiastically recommended.
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Drums Between the Bells, by "Brian Eno and the words of Rick Holland," will be released July 5 [Warp Records]. Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80's From Africa With Fury: Rise, produced by Brian Eno, John Reynolds and Seun Kuti, was released June 21 [Knitting Factory Records].