Mea Culpa, a film by Bruce Conner


More David Byrne. Artist Bruce Conner made two films in 1981 using pieces of music from Byrne & Eno’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts album: America Is Waiting and Mea Culpa. The latter is the more abstract of the two, with the drums and fragmented voices matched to dancing particles from science films. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The South Bank Show: Talking Heads
The Catherine Wheel by Twyla Tharp
Moonlight in Glory
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

6 thoughts on “Mea Culpa, a film by Bruce Conner”

  1. Worth noting that at least one, if not both of the ‘My Life…’ tracks are slightly different mixes from those finally appearing on the lp’s official release. I suspect Conner was given mixes from the first version of the album, whose release was delayed when clearance couldn’t be obtained for evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman’s voice. Several tracks were then revisited and remixed. I prefer the darker, slightly scarier versions as have survived via the Connor videos.

  2. Yeah, it does sound a little different, I hadn’t noticed before.

    I have the Kuhlman track (Into The Spirit World) in noisy quality on Ghosts, a CD bootleg, and better quality from that pre-release cassette that was fleetingly available for free download a few years ago. A shame they couldn’t clear it, I like everything from those sessions.

  3. Wasn’t there an original track on MLITBOG that included a ‘call to prayer’ that was deleted to assuage Muslim sensitivities? How prescient was that!

  4. Yes, it’s Qu’Ran:

    It’s on the Canadian CD release (and maybe a couple of others) but other reissues replaced it with Very, Very Hungry. I can see a reason for complaint beyond the obvious religious context, namely that people sampling Arabic speech have often chopped it up with no regard for the original meaning. This happened with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan when he and his group were recording with Michael Brook producing. Brook and the English-speaking engineers were reproved for making edits which made a nonsense of Khan’s words.

  5. Well ok but isn’t “cut up” nonsense speech kind of the point? And this track is no more abusive than any of the other tracks on the CD. The difference is the other tracks mostly didn’t have a constituency prepared to be offended. And do the pious get veto power over the arts?

    This does bring up another thing I’ve been curious about. What has the reaction over there been to an artist like Bryn Jones and his work as MUSLIMGAUZE since 9/11? Here in the states he’s such a cult artist that the only people who know about him are fans but I was wondering if his work had garnered any controversy as of late? -sigh- I wish he were around to respond.


  6. I expect the Muslim complaint was more about the religious text being used in a frivolous manner than anything else. But that’s a guess. As it is, MLITBOG mostly chops up the political speech, the religious bits are left whole. The Kathryn Kuhlman track they couldn’t get permission for is another of these:

    Eno & Byrne could have ignored the Muslim complaint but they chose not to; there was a similar complaint about a piece by Loop Guru in 1994 but I don’t think that was withdrawn.

    As for Bryn Jones, I’ve never heard anyone complain about his music or obsessive Arab/Muslim themes. He lived in north Manchester which has quite a large Muslim population (and a Jewish one, as it happens), and some of his music was recorded in a local mosque there. I imagine people respond to the sincerity of his work, he was obviously doing something more than picking out a bit of random speech or singing to embellish a rhythm track.

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