Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the release of David Bowie's mid-70s masterpiece, Low, the first album of his so-called Berlin Trilogy (later joined by "Heroes" and Lodger). Working with the increasingly experimental Brian Eno, this album was a dramatic departure for Bowie and much has been made over the music, the strange (and strangely inspiring) milieu of the West Berlin recording studio up against the Berlin wall, Bowie's continuing battles with the coke monster, the highly experimental nature of the sessions, and the studio use of Eno's Oblique Strategies cards.
To celebrate this happy day, and some of the strangeness around this record, here is a hilarious animated piece done in 2014 by The Brothers McLeod. The McLeod piece is actually an animation for a radio bit done by UK comedian Adam Buxton. It is a loving lampoon of Bowie, Eno, and long-time Bowie collaborator and co-producer, Tony Visconti, in the studio recording "Warszawa," one of the more haunting and inscrutable tracks on the album. You can hear Buxton's original here (though most of it ended up in the McLeod Bros animation).
This video mini-doc, done several years ago by the Polish culture portal, Cultural.pl, retraces the train trip that Bowie took through Poland, with a stop-over in Warsaw, that inspired the song. On their website, you can read more about the trip, the song, and the Polish folk tune (Helokanie) that inspired some of the vocalization on the track.
Below is Bowie performing Warszawa in Tokyo, Japan on Dec 12, 1978. Read the rest
John Cage liked to share a list of rules for creativity developed by artist Sister Corita Kent. That list was then typed up and popularized by Cage. They are: Read the rest
Oblique Strategies (Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas), released in 1975 by Brian Eno and the late British multimedia artist Peter Schmidt, is a deck of 100+ cards with evocative statements designed for musicians, artists, and others who find their creative imaginations stuck in a ditch. The minimal, modern black and white cards, housed in an equally stark black box, present strange and evocative statements and directives that the querant agrees to follow and allow to inform the current phase of his or her work. Here, let me draw a couple of cards. I got: "Tidy up," "When is it for?," "Give way to your worst impulse," and "Look at the order in which you do things."
If you need any testament to the efficacy of these cards, they were used in the studio to aid in the composition and engineering of tracks on Eno's Another Green World and Before and After Science, Bowie's Berlin-period records (Low, "Heroes," Lodger), and again on Bowie's 1995 record, Outside (among many other records).
I fell in love with Oblique Strategies when I fell in love with all of the above records that were created with its assistance. Oblique Strategies was one of the first apps I installed on my first iPhone (and have had on every phone since). When I heard, in the early aughts, that the long out-of-print deck was back in print, I jumped at the chance to finally own a physical copy. In my world of hoodoo and woo-woo, oracular cards should be physical. Read the rest
Last week, Colby Droscher filmed a gorgeous sunset from his office in San Francisco's Mission District. He added Brian Eno's beautiful Deep Blue Day and generously shared it with the rest of us. Read the rest
Brian Eno launched Obscure Records in 1975, and released 10 albums on the label, including his own, Discreet Music. The label closed in 1978. Ubuweb has links to all ten albums.
Obscure Records (1975-78)
Obscure No. 1: The Sinking of the Titanic
– Gavin Bryars (1975)
Obscure No. 2: Ensemble Pieces
– Christopher Hobbs, John Adams, Gavin Bryars (1975)
Obscure No. 3: Discreet Music
– Brian Eno (1975)
Obscure No. 4: New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments
– Max Eastley, David Toop (1975)
Obscure No. 5: Voices and Instruments
– Jan Steele, John Cage (1976)
Obscure No. 6: Decay Music
– Michael Nyman (1976)
Obscure No. 7: Music from the Penguin Café
– Members of the Penguin Café Orchestra (1976)
Obscure No. 8: Machine Music
– John White, Gavin Bryars (1978)
Obscure No. 9: Irma
– an opera by Tom Phillips, music by Gavin Bryars, libretto by Fred Orton (1978)
Obscure No. 10: The Pavilion of Dreams
– Harold Budd (1978)
Ten albums were issued in the series. Most have detailed liner notes on their back covers, analyzing the compositions and providing a biography of the composer, in a format typical of classical music albums, and much of the material can be regarded as 20th century classical music. The label provided a venue for experimental music, and its association with Eno gave increased public exposure to its composers and musicians.
[via] Read the rest