The Knee Plays 

David Byrne

The mid-'80s was the pinnacle of David Byrne's weirdness. Recording an album based on the indigenous music of a made-up tribe (In the Bush of Ghosts) was weird. Breaking up a successful group like the Talking Heads wasn't normal. And The Knee Plays, his 1985 collaboration with playwright Robert Wilson, was an exercise in sustained weirdness. Reissued now on a 1 CD/2 DVD set with eight bonus tracks, The Knee Plays features compositions for reeds and horns, primarily holding and shaping chords to form a backdrop for Byrne's meditations on working and traveling. "I thought that if I ate the food of the area I was visiting," Byrne explains on "Social Studies," "that I might assimilate the point of view of the people of that region." He's neither ironic nor satirical but simply fascinated by human behavior. ("Tree [Today Is an Important Occasion]," "In the Future") — SD

Grade: B+

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