By Steven Stolder
Though conceived as the score to accompany a dance performance directed by Wim Vandekeybus and performed by the Ultima Vez troupe, In Spite of Wishing and Wanting is an enlightening listen on its own. Much of David Byrne's post-Talking Heads work has drawn inspiration from international sources. While there are pronounced global influences apparent here, In Spite sounds less like the work of a man with lots of imported records and frequent-flyer miles and more like something spewed from the senses-working-overtime mind of an art-school refugee. Think Byrne's experimental 1981 collaboration with Brian Eno, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, rather than the more linear likes of 1989's Afro-Cuban inflected Rei Momo. The highlight here is the insistent and intoxicating "Said and the Ants," which sounds like Astor Piazzolla sitting in with a highlife band. As impressive (albeit considerably more taxing) is the 20-minute closer, "Danceonvaselinesuperextendedremix," a grinding, multihued soundscape that shifts into a Tijuana-Brass-in-a-chill room interlude. It's indisputably self-indulgent, which is to say it's Byrne free of musical fear.