Posts Tagged ‘Lodger’

All this week, we’re presenting “[W]hat may well have been among New York City’s best live shows this year [2018]” recordings of the performances of David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy: Low(1977), “Heroes”(1977), and 1979’s Lodger, and the music that inspired the trilogy. In the week where we mark the anniversaries of Bowie’s birth and his death, you can hear those stunning performances of Bowie’s music and the works that inspired it.

One album was performed in its entirety each night—Lodger on the 17th, “Heroes” on the 18th, and Low on the 19th—and each concert will open with short programs of music that inspired the trilogy composed by Brian Eno and Klaus Schulze.

Recorded at Brookfield Place in October of 2018, the cast of players was led by Shearwater/Loma’s Jonathan Meiburg and featured current and past members of Shearwater, Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors, Wordless Music Orchestra, Xiu Xiu, Battle Trance, Glass Ghost, and Loma, along with special guest, Carlos Alomar (David Bowie’s guitarist and musical director for 30 years.) Also, hear music that inspired the trilogy: Brian Eno’s “Discreet Music,” and selections from Another Green World (1975), and “Body Love” by Klaus Schulze.

Jonathan Meiburg, in the program, writes that “[T]hese albums are the pinnacle of [Bowie’s] musical and artistic output…the Berlin Trilogy has everything: brooding, cinematic instrumentals, rave-ups that end almost before they begin, gorgeous ballads that threaten to collapse on themselves, and Bowie’s most famous and expansive song. Jonathan Meiburg had begun rehearsing a few songs from Lodger with his band Shearwater. Then Bowie passed, and it seemed like an encore or two of “Look Back in Anger” wasn’t enough. They figured out how to play the whole album, and then wanted more. Meanwhile, the band’s Emily Lee had already begun the herculean task of scoring out the albums’ impenetrable ambient epics.

Shearwater decided to begin with Lodger, the album they knew best and was easiest to play, which also meant the series would end with Low’s loveliest and most confounding moments. They also decided to bring in some friends, including saxophonist Travis Laplante and Deerhoof shredder Ed Rodriguez. While Bowie had at least a dozen singers in his body, they split the songs into three, more or less: Meiburg, Lee, and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. It was a series of smart decisions for a strange locale.

Wordless kicked off the first night with a statement of intent: Eno’s Discreet Music, reenvisioned as wafts of guitar, cello, and electronics for a platonic ideal of mall music. Lodger is the most accessible in the trilogy, but it’s hardly Muzak—especially its wildest moments Bowie never attempted to play live. The deeply weird “African Night Flight” was all squalls and lumbering rhythms and rapid-fire monologue from Stewart, while “Move On”—essentially Bowie’s “All the Young Dudes” played backwards—sounded live like some blend of the Who and Pornography-era Cure. And the, as Meiburg put it, “unfortunately timely” “Boys Keep Swinging” was a sleazy riot.

In the rehearsals I sat in on, the band seemed deeply nervous about tackling “Heroes.” And yet, piled into a warehouse’s small soundproofed room with views of the toxic Gowanus Canal instead of the Wall, they’d managed to make the beloved title track sound new, anchored by Power’s amiable bass and Meiburg’s affectionate melancholy set against Stewart’s anguished wailing. On stage, they did it again, and tore through the first side’s “Beauty and the Beast” and especially the psychotic broken beats of “Blackout” with relish before launching into the second side’s moody complexity.

It’s possible to play these songs, Meiburg had told Schaefer in an interlude, as long as you stop thinking “and just glide over the top of it.” As Lee plucked her koto and Stewart caressed a gong for “Moss Garden,” we were all gliding along with them. And then we were plummeting deep into “Neuköln,” the low point of “Heroes,” which they performed as a kind of Badalamenti-goes-to-Berlin noir with an almost ridiculous finale courtesy of Laplante’s bravura sax solo. How could this possibly be followed? “Luckily, this album comes with its own encore,” Meiburg joked, referring to the slinky “The Secret Life of Arabia,” which closed the night with the kind of release only disco handclaps can offer.

Speaking of release, on the final night Wordless dug up a 1977 porn soundtrack by Klaus Schulze as a prelude to Low, and cellist Clarice Jensen filled her arrangement of the krautrock icon’s Body Love with wild drones and spurts of percussion—a real treat, especially with surprise guest Shahzad Ismaily on Moog. Schaefer also came with a surprise: Bowie’s longtime collaborator Carlos Alomar, who explained that completing the trilogy took “curiosity, courage—oh, and a half-million-dollar budget.”

Meiburg and company had plenty of the first two, launching into Low with a fairly nonchalant “Speed of Life,” the album’s opening credits, and a menacing take on “Breaking Glass” in which Stewart howled “you’re such a wonderful person/but you’ve got PROBLEMS” and Meiburg whispered in response, “I’ll never touch you.” The moment was fraught. But the real killer of Low is side two. In rehearsals, Meiburg had counted out the beats for “Warszawa” as the group found the math in its midsts. On stage, before the largest and loudest audience of the series, Alomar came out and conducted, his presence almost pastoral. Blessed, they carried on, playing “Weeping Wall” with a lack of preciousness that turned Bowie’s proto-post-rock beauty into an ersatz Morricone Western. “Subterraneans,” Low’s highlight, was a different frontier altogether: still alien, still bleak, but newly inhabitable.

The crowd stood and cheered, visions of Bowie in our heads, looking back in wonder at where we are now. Just blocks from where Bowie passed, the city paid its respects the way it always does: by reinventing the past. The Berlin trilogy might be history, but it’s full of living songs,

John Schaefer continues:

Bowie actually began referring to his “Berlin Trilogy” only in the promotional phase leading up to Lodger’s release. In retrospect, all three albums reflect the city – its darkness, its cultural ferment, its isolation. Working with Brian Eno, and Tony Visconti, Bowie produced some of his most memorable rock songs, and some of his edgiest. But he also surprised and confounded the listening public by devoting large stretches of each record to musical experiments that departed not only from the world of rock but from the song format itself.

The lasting impact of these three albums has been felt not just in the world of rock but in contemporary classical music as well. Philip Glass was moved to write a series of symphonies based on the trilogy: his Lodger Symphony completes that trilogy and premieres in 2019. Subsequent generations of composers and musicians have grown up with the freedom to move among the various musical worlds that Bowie explored in these three pivotal albums. For proof, you need only look at the musicians in these concerts: they represent a gathering of the tribes, from the worlds of indie rock, but also from New York’s thriving contemporary music scene – many are part of both camps, and some are composers themselves.”

The band Members:

Timo Andres (piano, synthesizer)

Angel Deradoorian (flute, voice, synthesizer) launched a solo career after making a name for herself with well-known acts such as Dirty Projectors, Avey Tare, and Flying Lotus. In 2009, she appeared on Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, released her first solo EP under the name Deradoorian and lent her vocal talents to LP, the debut album from Discovery (founded by Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot). In 2015, she released her long-awaited solo album, The Expanding Flower Planet (2015), Eternal Recurrence, her second release released in 2017.

Dan Duszynski (guitar, voice, percussion) He is also the drummer of ethereal rock band Loma (Sub Pop).

Greg Fox (drums) is a New York City born-and-bred drummer, He has played on and released 49 records since 2008, including his work with Liturgy, ZS, Ben Frost, Colin Stetson, Skeletons, Hieroglyphic Being, Man Forever, and others, named “Best Drummer in NYC” by the Village Voice in 2011. Currently spending most of his time in NYC,

Josh Halpern (drums) is a live and session drummer, singer, and producer based in Austin, Texas and is known for his infectiously animated performances. He’s most at home on the road with bands like Shearwater, Still Corners, Marmalakes and Palo Duro His most recent studio recording is Nights and Weekends, a collaboration with songwriter Peter Shults, released under the name Teddy Glass.

Clarice Jensen (cello, electronics) is the artistic director of ACME, She has collaborated with composers and recording artists, including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Stars of the Lid, Owen Pallett, Max Richter, Tyondai Braxton, and numerous others.

Eliot Krimsky (synthesizer) played keyboards with Here We Go Magic and Meshell Ndegeocello, He is currently preparing his first solo album, Wave in Time.

Travis Laplante (tenor saxophone) is a saxophonist, composer, and qigong practitioner living in Brooklyn, New York, Laplante leads Battle Trance, the acclaimed tenor saxophone quartet, as well as Subtle Degrees,

Emily Lee (musical director, keyboards, voice, koto, violin) is a New York-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. She performs in Shearwater, Loma, and Snake Oil, and plays keyboards with Mutoid Man for the heavy metal talk show Two Minutes to Late Night.

Frank LoCrasto (synthesizer) is a Texas-born, Brooklyn-based musician, He has appeared on more than 40 records.

Grey Mcmurray (guitar, bass, voice) has been called “sublimely odd” (New York Magazine), and “the world’s least obtrusive guitarist” (The Guardian). Recently he has been performing as a duo with Beth Orton, Colin Stetson’s Sorrow Ensemble, He is the co-leader of the duo itsnotyouitsme with Caleb Burhans, with four releases on New Amsterdam Records.

Jonathan Meiburg (voice, guitar) leads the band Shearwater, which has released six albums since 2006 on Matador and Sub Pop Records. The most recent, 2016’s Jet Plane and Oxbow, and the band’s live performance of Lodger for the Onion’s A.V. Club inspired them to take on Bowie’s entire Berlin trilogy. Meiburg also performs with Loma, whose self-titled debut was released this year by Sub Pop and is currently finishing a book about South America’s strangest birds of prey. He lives in Brooklyn.

Lucas Oswald (guitar, voice) is a songwriter, He has toured internationally with Minus Story, Old Canes, Appleseed Cast, Jesca Hoop, and Shearwater.

Sadie Powers (bass)  She tours with Shearwater and recently toured with Lucy Dacus. Her composition, Wick (for french horn, water glasses, and electronics), was recorded in Spring 2018 by the avant-garde trio How Things Are Made and appears on the trio’s album, She comprises half the electroacoustic ambient duo, Triptychs, and was the bassist for the new romantic band Dead Fame, which released albums Frontiers (2011) and Vicious Design (2014).

Ed Rodriguez (guitar) has been around far too long  He currently plays guitar in Deerhoof.

Jamie Stewart (voice, percussion) He began the musical group Xiu Xiu in 2002.

Carlos Alomar (special guest) was David Bowie’s rhythm guitarist and music director for almost thirty years. His songwriting credits include “Fame” with Bowie and John Lennon, as well as “DJ” and “The Secret Life Of Arabia” with Bowie and Brian Eno.

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It’s More than two years have passed since David Bowie departed us, but the steady flow of back-catalogue releases shows no sign of slowing. With another Record Store Day upon on and the release of three more Bowie collectables. At the time of his death suggested Bowie had left detailed plans for years worth of reissues, a number of which have already surfaced, including the Cracked Actor live album and the 13-LP set A New Career in a New Town.

This month, 45 years to the day since it was first released, comes a special silver vinyl edition of “Aladdin Sane”, as well as a repress of 1981’s “ChangesTwoBowie” compilation.

the Reissue of Aladdin Sane gives us an opportunity for another visit, in other words—along with these six other gems from David Bowie’s ever-growing backlist of releases. All of which should be added to your collection.

David Bowie  – Aladdin Sane

Though Bowie made Aladdin Sane during his first big burst of success, it is usually overshadowed by the mold-breaking The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and, to some extent, the more overtly theatrical Diamond Dogs which has experienced a major critical reevaluation in the years since its release. Bowie himself might take some of the blame for that, having somewhat glibly described Aladdin Sane at the time of its release as “Ziggy goes to America.” But while Ziggy remains an undeniable cornerstone in Bowie’s rise (and in the shaping of 20th-century rock music),

Aladdin Sane is no mere retread. In fact, one might argue that it is a more expansive refinement of its predecessor, setting two of his finest singles of the period—“The Jean Genie” and “Drive-In Saturday” alongside its wonderfully deranged, avant-garde title track, the biting “Cracked Actor” and one of the great album-closing ballads of his career, “Lady Grinning Soul”

 

David Bowie  –  Bowie At The Beeb

Before he was David Bowie 1970s musical chameleon in chief—he was David Bowie, singer of whimsical psychedelic pop. Bowie would more or less disown 1967’s self-titled debut—“I didn’t know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley,” he later said with songs such as the dainty “Love You Till Tuesday” offering only vague hints at what was to come.

A more informative insight into early Bowie can be gleaned from this collection of BBC radio sessions, which run from his first appearance (alongside the Tony Visconti Orchestra) in 1968 to the height of Ziggy mania in 1972. The set provides a series of illuminating glimpses at his fast-growing gift for songcraft and stagecraft, with the string-drenched pop of 1968’s “Karma Man” gradually giving way to expansive prog-folk (“Cygnet Committee,” “The Width of a Circle”), early takes on Ziggy material (“Queen Bitch,” “Hang on to Yourself”), Velvet Underground covers (“I’m Waiting for the Man,” “White Light/White Heat”), and more.

The initial CD edition from 2000 also included a bonus third disc that featured a live set recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre that same year, as well as a glaring error, with the same May 1972 recording of “Ziggy Stardust” appearing twice on disc 2 (since corrected for subsequent two-disc releases).

David Bowie  –  Lodger

The final entry in Bowie’s unparalleled run of ‘70s albums is also the least-loved of the lot, in no small part because of its unhelpful labeling as the third part in his so-called “Berlin Trilogy.” Though it was made with most of the same crew responsible for the one-two punch of “Low” and Heroes” (producer Tony Visconti, creative foil Brian Eno, and a band framed around Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, and George Murray), it is less a continuation of those albums’ themes than a foreshadowing of Bowie’s beloved 1980 LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

Recorded and mixed in the not-very-German locations of Montreux, Switzerland, and New York City, New York, “Lodger” also ditched the structure of its supposed siblings (songs on side A, instrumentals on side B), instead spreading its avant-garde moments throughout. Opening with a deceptively conventional piano ballad, “Fantastic Voyage” it then explodes into life on the extraordinary “African Night Flight,” an urgent freeform piece that prefigures Eno’s “world music” experiments with David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Further travels follow on “Red Sails” and the Turkish reggae (yes, Turkish reggae) of “Yassassin,” while “D.J.” and “Look Back in Anger” revel in the general rubbishness of modern life.

The album is notable, too, for its clever way with recycling: “Move On” is “All the Young Dudes” backward. “Fantastic Voyage” and “Boys Keep Swinging” share a chord progression but little else. And the closing “Red Money” is a reworking of “Sister Moonlight” a song Bowie wrote for Iggy Pop several years earlier.

Only a modest success by Bowie’s standards on its release in 1979, it has long since been due some form of critical rehabilitation. The 2017 boxed set A New Career in a New Town went some way toward doing so, foregrounding a brand new mix of the album by Tony Visconti, but it remains underrated.

DAVID BOWIE, absolute beginners, B side absolute beginners dub mix , VS 838, 7" single

David Bowie – Absolute Beginners

Bowie began the ‘80s with one of his best albums Scary Monsters and the biggest hit of his career (Let’s Dance), but after that he lost his way, seemingly wrong-footed by the mainstream pop stardom he had sought and then so spectacularly achieved. Amid the two weakest albums of his career (1984’s half-baked Tonight and 1987’s unwisely titled Never Let Me Down, however, there were occasionally still signs that the old magic hadn’t left him yet. Tonight’s “Loving the Alien” is a stunning song in need of a better home, while “This Is Not America,” recorded for the soundtrack to the spy film Falcon and the Snowman, proved considerably more successful than a jazz-fusion collaboration with the Pat Metheny Group had any right to be.

Even better than either of those, though, is “Absolute Beginners,” a windswept ballad written for the film of the same name (in which Bowie also stars). Recorded in a single day with a pickup band that included keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman and Prefab Sprout drummer Neil Conti, it’s a grandstanding epic in the mold of “Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide” or “Wild Is the Wind” Bowie’s widescreen vocal offset perfectly by the warm horn section and Wakeman’s jazzy flourishes.

Not included on any of Bowie’s studio albums, “Absolute Beginners” is well worth seeking out, either on one of his many best-of albums or on its own standalone EP, which also features an extravagant eight-minute version (complete with bolero intro) and a surprising rendition, in Italian, of Domenico Modugno’s Eurovision-winning “Volare.”

David Bowie  –  1,Outside

After hitting a creative low in the mid-to-late ‘80s, then taking a questionable detour into hard rock with Tin Machine, Bowie took some time to re-find his footing in the ‘90s, but by the time of 1. Outside—a dystopian concept album made in collaboration with his old mate Brian Eno, among others—he was well and truly back on form. “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” was his best single for a decade. “Hallo Spaceboy” is a suitably idiosyncratic update of the Major Tom myth. Tracks like “The Motel” (a grandly atmospheric piece evocative of latter-day Scott Walker and driven by the returning Mike Garson’s baroque styled piano) and the album-closing “Strangers When We Meet” are as good as any other art-rock of the day.

1. Outside might not be perfect—the inter-song segues have not aged well, and a third of the run time could comfortably be pruned from its over-generous 75-minutes—but it’s one of Bowie’s most ambitious works, and one that sits comfortably among his post-’70s highlights. Perhaps his premillennial tension was a little too far ahead of the curve—after a somewhat lukewarm response to this album, Bowie’s plans for a series of sequels soon faded, and he made the jungle-tinged Earthling instead.

David Bowie  –  Heathen

For a long time, before Blackstar wowed and saddened in equal measure, Heathen felt like it might be the last great David Bowie album. Released in the aftermath of 9/11, and in some ways capturing the post-terror mood despite having largely been completed before the attacks on New York (Bowie’s then adopted home) and Washington D.C., it’s a work of maturity, morality, and mortality.

Death had long figured in Bowie’s work, but never before with the calm acceptance of Heathen’s opening track, “Sunday,” a mournful reflection on a world where “nothing remains” and the light is scarce. There’s a similarly meditative mood to “I Would Be Your Slave” and “5:15 The Angels Have Gone,” on which he declares, “I’m out here forever.” Elsewhere, among the lighter fare, “Slow Burn” is a kind of mini-“Heroes” with Pete Townshend on guitar, while “Slip Away” reunites Bowie with another old friend, the Stylophone pocket synthesizer. Slotting in neatly alongside Bowie’s own compositions are well-judged covers of Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and the Pixies’ “Cactus,” in which the original’s mid-song shout-out is playfully updated to “D-A-V-I-D.”

If the response from some was once again muted, its creator was undeterred. “I’m pretty much a realist,” he said at the time. “The young have to kill the old. … That’s how life works.”

David Bowie  –  iSelect

Over the years, Bowie’s best bits have been compiled in so many different shapes and forms that they almost require a catalogue of their own. The best of the best-ofs, though, is this 12-track collection of Bowie’s own personal favorites from his extensive backlist. It was first released, incongruously, as a cover-mounted freebie alongside the June 29th, 2008, edition of the right-wing The Mail on Sunday newspaper, before being given a separate, rhetoric-free release later in the year.

Of the 12 songs Bowie chose to include, only “Life on Mars?” is an obvious pick. Among the rest are two tracks from Lodger, the Low outtake “Some Are,” and a newly remixed version of Never Let Me Down’s “Time Will Crawl.” In the illuminating song-by-song liner notes that accompany the album, Bowie described the latter as being among “a host of songs that I’ve recorded over the years that for one reason or another (clenched teeth) I’ve often wanted to re-record some time in the future.” If you’re looking for all the hits, in order, there are plenty of options to choose from, of which the most recent, 2016’s Legacy, is probably your best bet. As a guided tour by the man himself, however, iSelect cannot be beaten.

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