In 1988, David Byrne collaborated with Robert Wilson on a "theatre piece" called The Forest that premiered in Berlin. (Byrne previously had worked with Wilson on The CIVIL warS, resulting in his album Music for "The Knee Plays.") Byrne's orchestral score served as the basis for this more extended version, released three years later on his Luaka Bop label. The music is stately, near-classical, and like none of his other recordings except his Academy Award-winning music for The Last Emperor. Byrne always was an eclectic, and in a purely musical environment (there are a few stray lyrics, but nothing to speak of), he is free to move from the European classical tradition to those of Japan and the Middle East, among other places. Depending upon your point of view, the result is either a pleasant travelogue or a mess. Or maybe both.
The Forest Review
by William Ruhlmann