The man of many faces and personas makes a third trip to Matt’s Music Mine with his 11thstudio record, Low.With a standing ovation from critics and music fans alike, David Bowie was able to truly manipulate a sound to become his own. Changing directions with each and every single album, Bowie was a pioneer in the music industry for his bold stance, his unfearful attitude, and the ability to capture an audience with engaging, ahead-of-the-time displays of musical athleticism.
It is shown on the opening track, “Speed of Life” which is entirely instrumental but became iconic for its use of synthetic crashing and cascading chords. This was mainly to a relationship that would develop between Bowie and Brian Eno who himself had worked in the minimalist and ambient styling. This relationship would start to train Bowie in the art of making graceful, but haunting illustrations of the highs and lows of his life and career. In a time where Bowie’s Young American’s was still receiving radio play and being considered one of the best albums of the decade, Bowie instead wanted to entirely flip the script and create something a little less approachable.
Low is split in a near perfect half between ambient tracks that rely on the sense and lack of sustenance or structure. The first half is instead a more narrow blueprint of what Bowie was doing before, but instead relying more on creating these outstanding instrumentals that would boost his vocal performances. The instrumentals on Loware some of Bowie’s best, reflecting on “Sound and Vision”, “Speed of Life”, “Always Crashing in the Same Car” and even “Warszawa” that painted a vivid illustration of Bowie’s time in Berlin. A monumental time in music history, Bowie’s Lowwould become a constant mirror to his English upbringing and his new, more modern German sense.
With a larger focus on destroying the walls of direction, Lowis a collaborative effort that uses Eno, Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, George Murray, Ricky Gardiner, and Roy Young as the primary credited musicians. There is also the work of Iggy Pop and Mary Visconti, Eduard Meyer, and even Peter Robinson and Paul Buckmaster as they form the piano and different chord progressions on the later tracks. Bowie who had an arsenal of musicians, directors, producers, and nearly an endless supply of talent at his disposal was able to truly form something that felt groundbreaking with each transitional album.
Seeing Bowie grow even in a modern sense is fascinating, there is something that is so abnormal about seeing an immensely talented performer be able to be so forward-thinking and truly awe-inspiring in each category. Lowis an album that will stand out for being the starting factor in his Berlin trilogy, but for also having some of Bowie’s best songs in his career even in some of his darkest hours.