Friday, July 15, 2016

Low - David Bowie

Yes, the time has come for me to review his "master work". The album considered by many as one of the best albums ever. Now when I say this, I'm referring to the 11th studio album by David Bowie. Now I personally love the hell out of this album, cover :D. This is supposed to be based off a promo poster for the movie he was in "The Man Who Fell To Earth". There's pretty much where The Thin White Duke is from (the film). This album is the first in the Berlin Trilogy, all of which were made with Brian Eno. I've actually enjoyed this thing from the first time I listened to it, but it wasn't until he passed that I really could say there was a connection with me and that record. Maybe I know what it was like to be at a low, there was other stuff besides just his passing going on. I mean life gets you there from time to time, but you learn and grow. One thing for sure I can disclose right now is, I can't say how many times I listened to the first half (or the entire thing as a whole) in the car while I drove to and from school. It's like a lot. So without further a due, does this live up to the hype? Is it a bunch of hipster bullshit that is buying in to a subpar record? Is Eno responsible for its level of brilliance? Am I qualified to review albums? This and many more will all be revealed to you below. So please feel free to say I'm full of shit, as I delve into this master piece of ambient/avant-pop/.
  1. Speed of Life: This opens the album and sort of takes you to another place entirely. Like really, even though Bowie has since said (paraphrased) "Station to Station is just a rock version of what we were trying to do on Low", it still sounds pretty different. I guess I can see that comparison, but this is so different at the same time. The textures here are gorgeous, so are on the others, but this really just makes me want to dance. There are rarely instrumental intros that get me pumped and basically an immediate feel to sit through it, once it clicks. It just works so well as this albums opener I don't really know what to say. I love the dance feeling to the track and I love those icy synths that send shivers down my spine. The player are really doing something here that and I really just wanna re-listen to it once it's over. It also have a feeling of driving, like a broken up car is speeding down a highway or something. At least in my mind.
  2. Breaking Glass: Where the last track was sort of bittersweet, there was a joy but it was mind of damaged, this is more of the damaged man trying to find joy. But he is sort of disillusioned by his fears and anxiety. Now I'm not saying that what it's about, that's what I'm saying it sounds like. This is also more "jagged" and abrupt and loud. I mean this isn't Merzbow territory or Boredoms but this definitely is less poppy than say some of his other stuff. Though I still love it.
  3. What In The World: What do you expect when you get Iggy to contribute harmonies on this. I've heard this song at least 20 times and I still can't figure out that like Mario sound in the beginning. This track is another fast track, but I really like Pop's echoed backing vocals. I also really like the harpsichord sounding synth on the track. The textures on this thing, and whole album are great but still. I also really like the chaotic feeling and almost disoriented feeling you get towards the ending of the track. I think it's pretty damn good.
  4. Sound And Vision: This is my favorite track off this album. This is also the track that I think is key to understanding this album as a whole. It's quite literal, it's not cryptic, it's like about as straight forward as you could possibly lyrically without taking the time to explain it in the song. This is both upbeat, but the way it's sung makes it haunting. It's happy, but it's also kind of down. It also has some great synths, very poppy feeling and that sigh in the beginning is so fucking great. Also I couldn't not mention that lead guitar playing the melody, fucking great shit. Mary Visconti, or Hopkins, comes in and is the female backing vocalist on this track. I really like her little thing she does and then Bowie comes and there's this vocal, then distorted vocal, I don't know if that's just on the CD or if it's also on the vinyl. Fucking phenomenal. Plus that saxophone, damn.
  5. Always Crashing in the Same Car: A favorite of mine, its so smooth and chill. Very laid back and fun. The more I listen the more I love this thing. There is the obvious literal interpretation of him  crashing the same car continuously. This song also has meaning to me, because while it's about literally crashing a car over and over, I still cry when I go.... wow I'm doing the same shit over and over again. There is also a mellow feeling to the track that is almost deceiving. Well not almost, it is deceiving. There is also a top notch solo on this track that thank God for Carlos.
  6. Be My Wife: This was to Angela, his wife, the two of which were going through problems. I guess he left America then went to France, or Switzerland, and one live in one place and the other... I don't exactly remember but there was just shit going down I guess. This song was looked at as his final plea to keep his marriage alive. Sadly they were divorced by 1980. But as for the song it's much more of a rock song and is pretty straight forward, hahah. No it's not to crazy or complex, though I do loves me some four on the floor. There is great playing from everyone once again and it's a great tune.
  7. A New Career In A New Town: This is a great tune to close side 1 and is just fun. There really is a feeling that its like going through somewhere for the first time and feeling that feeling of a new beginning. I love the distant synth and that drum beat keeping time. It's so fucking good, and it's just like once it starts and that harmonica comes in.... I can imagine exactly what the title suggests. A hopeful song, but also shy and unsure of itself. The playing here again, thought much better than the last track, is still amazing.
  8. Warszawa: Opening side two we get something entirely new for him. Nothing on any of his prior albums remotely resembled this. Eno is supposedly responsible for the chords to the track, but damn if this isn't barren. I mean I could see if Chernobyl happened in the 70's this song being written about and for that. Don't get me wrong this is amazing and can send chills down your spine, but its also gorgeous at the same time. There is a haunting beauty to the chord progression, the sounds, the textures and the everything basically. This could be the most realized song of the style on this album. Like the albums masterpiece, which isn't something new. It's crazy to think the only things used were a minimoog, piano and Chamberlain played by Eno, and of course David's vocals. I guess the lyrics were based on the recording of Helokanie by "Polish folk choir" Śląsk. I still love the fuck out of this and also this kick the shit out of anything John Carpenter could even try to do. That being said, this was written by Eno with the vocal stuff from Bowie. Also the 8 minutes don't drag on at all, honestly, they are well earned.
  9. Art Decade: I like the little electronic flares that pop up in the beginning. This feels almost like its underwater and really has some amazing textures. There are these like sleigh bell things and then these little flashes that sounds like something darting by. The title is a play on the words "Art Decayed" and I assume "Art Deco". I could be wrong, but I doubt its "Decade" as in 10 years. I don't have a ton to say about this track but I really is hypnotic and relaxing. Not as much on edge as the last.
  10. Weeping Wall: This is basically a variation on the song Scarborough Fair, which that kind of does bother me a bit but I guess it makes sense. I mean I love this instrumental none the less, but that does deduct some points there. I personally love percussion, especially pitched percussion. I wonder if Reich inspired this track, if not for the lead synth I'd say this is very minimalist. It is very repetitious, but I still love it. I also love what I'm assuming is treated guitars. This is also very hypnotic, and I'm kinda waiting to ear the song progressively disintegrate as Come Up to Show Them Does.
  11. Subterraneans: Closing we get the whole band back together. I really like the bass in the beginning and this very much feels like a Residents track. This is very quiet and I almost feel like was supposed to have strings. There is a ending feeling of this and that saxophone kinda of reminds me of 80's music, but not like in a bad way. It feels very sad and this feels just distant. I would like to see the track get nice and confident and grow, but this is more realistic. You don't just get out of it right away, even once you've accepted it. It takes time to heal and this is the ending. I also smile when I hear echoes of futures songs and ideas on later records by him in this.
Overall I have to give this album a 10/10. Okay, do I think this is the masterpiece everyone else seems to claim it is.... I mean if you mean in terms of nothing wrong, then yes. I mean the more I listen to this the less I find error. I have to actively seek out negative aspects in the songs. There really is nothing wrong with this album. Sadly I have to say I agree with this being one of the best albums ever. I think part of what the appeal of the record lives in the fact he was at the lowest point in his life. While that might be lower than I'll ever sink, everything is relative, you can probably relate using your lowest point. A drug addiction for someone may be rock bottom, where as depression may be for another or divorce even cheating. All those and many more it just varies from person to person. The fragmented and broken lyrics and music on side A are very transparently relate-able. A broken man trying to write and basically get his life together. There is a comfort knowing that you yourself, regardless of the dilemma, are not alone. When I listened to this record I sort of got a sense of comradely (hopefully that's spelled right) in Bowie. As much as the world sucks and is really pointless (outside of music) there is a sense of peace that once it clicks you feel. I can kind of understand why people hold this in such high regard. I don't think it's the best record ever, as with his other material during his prime it is amazing none the less, but it's not far from it. I also want to say, along with that comfort, there is a sense of hope in these songs. This really is great. 

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