David Bowie
Low


4.5
superb

Review

by rhcp pman USER (5 Reviews)
July 30th, 2009 | 11 replies | 3,264 views


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bowie's segway into the Berlin era turns out to be a fan favourite and critically acclaimed masterpiece.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

The cocaine fuelled Station to Station in 1976 was the bridge between Bowie's glam and soul days and his Berlin era, named as such because Bowie moved to West Berlin to escape his drug-addled existence in LA. Bowie became enamoured of the region for its music and art scenes and its roots in expressionism - Berlin was for Bowie a sanctuary from himself, a place where he could bask in anonymity.

Low in 1977 was the first of the Berlin Trilogy featuring Bowie's collaboration with Brian Eno, the godfather of ambient music. Low was the perfect vehicle for Eno to direct his sonic explorations, and for Bowie to channel his anguish from his past life and paint a picture of his world at the time. As such, Low is starkly personal - the album name aptly describes Bowie at that point in life. And as Bowie's moniker of "musical chameleon" implies, he is a trend-setter and Low certainly doesn't deviate from this. Here we see Bowie through his krautrock influences as he embraces synthesizers and ambience amongst other things. Low was produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti. Although Eno is responsible for co-writing only one song, he provided a lot of the direction and inspiration for the second half of the album.

With shimmering synths and rocking energy, the theatrical Speed of Life kicks off the album and provides only a taste of what is to come. Low defies classification – tracks like Breaking Glass and Be My Wife demonstrate that even on an album as eclectic and innovative as Low, the rhythm section of George Murray and Dennis Davis are uncompromising in groove. Tracks like What in the World and the intriguing folk-meets-disco A New Career in a New Town demonstrate that Bowie can seamlessly meld angular guitars, synths and harmonicas. And even through this pastiche of sounds and ideas, Bowie manages to reach the peak of vibrant pop perfection with his single, Sound and Vision. Always Crashing in the Same Car is my favourite track of Side A - quite simply, it describes Bowie's self-destructive and cyclic cocaine addiction. It is a bleak and bitter tirade with an exquisitely melancholic guitar solo.

Whereas Side A is all about Bowie and consists of sub 4 minute songs spanning pop, prog, glam, folk and funk, and in Bowie's words "all the self-pitying crap", Side B takes a complete 180 and features Bowie's "reactions to places" in the form of ambient soundscapes. Warszawa, co-written by Eno, is the first of these. Bowie intended to capture his visit to desolate Warsaw in sound and succeeds to an almost synaesthetic extent with this incredibly powerful and dense track. The rest of Side B is similar in form. Art Decade is an eerie cavernous track, written to portray West Berlin as a dying city. Weeping Wall is a bizarre adaptation of Scarborough Fair with twisted synths and an ‘anti-solo’ reminiscent of Robert Fripp (who would later collaborate with Bowie). Subterraneans is a rather harrowing depiction of the people trapped in East Berlin after the erection of the Berlin Wall.

Fast-forward 32 years and Low is still startlingly fresh and replete with originality. Its dichotomy of avant-pop and ambient music eschews any kind of convention. The influence of Low can easily be detected in a great deal of music released in the decade following, especially in the realms of post-punk and new wave. Bands and musicians citing Low as an influence include Joy Division (originally named Warsaw), Human League, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, NIN and Phillip Glass. Low was even influential for Tony Visconti’s revolutionary deep-treated drum sound. Low was ahead of its time and near flawless in execution.


user ratings (821)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
rhcp pman
July 30th 2009



12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Disclaimer:

Please note that I originally wrote this review as Seltzer on MusicBanter and I'm reposting it here.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2009



15727 Comments


I really should get this

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

robin
Emeritus
July 30th 2009



4241 Comments


mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm sound and vision

fireaboveicebelow
July 30th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no shit

Kaleid
July 30th 2009



710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very nice. Side B is brilliant, particularly Art Decade and Warszawa.
It took me ages to get the meaning behind the album art and the title. Out of the Berlin trilogy, this is better than Lodger, but "Heroes" just beats it, I reckon

MassiveAttack
July 30th 2009



2688 Comments


Nice a David Bowie review, I'll be getting into him shortly.

shindip
July 30th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is such an awesome album. good review 2

Titan50
July 31st 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, pos. Haven't heard enough to rate it, but Warszawa is beast

AggravatedYeti
July 31st 2009



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

blue blue lectric blue!

Titan50
July 31st 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's a really trippy fan video of Sound and Vision on YouTube

shindip
July 31st 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Somehow the guitar on Sound and Vision reminds me of Island In The Sun by Weezer.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy