ENO/HYDE “High Life” CD

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High Life is a genuine surprise. As the second meeting between Eno and Hyde in the last four months, it would have been reasonable to expect outtakes, another set of OK half-songs to accompany the ones released earlier this year. But High Life—recorded in just five days, with much of it played and processed live—is something else altogether. This is Eno’s best vocal album in 25 years, since his 1990 collaboration with John Cale, Wrong Way Up. It’s interesting to go back that far because High Life has a few things in common with that record, most prominently the elements inspired by pop music from the African continent. Yes, this is a recurring obsession of Eno’s, dating back at least to his first co-billed collaboration with David Byrne, 1981’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. But on High Life it’s again made explicit, from the title (Highlife is a broad genre of jazz-inflected West African pop music that emerged late in the last century) on down.