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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Africa > Brazil > Ilé Aiyé (The House of Life)

Ilé Aiyé (The House of Life)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Main Program: C+



Since leaving The Talking Heads, David Byrne has continued to delve into African and Brazilian music in a way that makes Paul Simon look like he only visited it briefly.  Of course, Simon got two great albums out of the experience, while Byrne decided to also do a videotaped project called Ilé Aiyé (The House of Life).  The 1989 project uses analog video split screen and picture-in-picture techniques to show a collage of the culture of Candomblé, an African spirit cult in a part of Brazil called Bahia.


The 51 minutes are interesting on their own with their original audio, as well as with Byrne explaining what you are seeing.  It is more fun the first time without his words like Baraka or like film projects.  On Video, it has a different feel, as if old television footage is taking a risk to be abstract or artistic.  It turns out this cult (cult in a good way, as if I needed to be Politically Correct) influenced much of the culture around it and in profound ways, though it is only one of many influences over there.  Byrne does some music for the program, so like the Jonathan Demme feature film Stop Making Sense, you are not hearing everything in its original form.  At least this project was not put through several studios for remixing.  There are no chapter stops and this program runs 51 minutes.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on professional NTSC analog video and shows its age, especially with the effects used, but the effect is worth the quality loss.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds, but sounds good for its age and circumstances.  Extras include the Byrne commentary and a nicely illustrated, text-filled booklet typical of the good offerings Plexifilm is always putting out.  If you like Byrne, this kind of music and/or visual experience, Ilé Aiyé (The House of Life) is for you.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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