David Bowie - Low (1977)

Now, I'm not a huge fan of Bowie's work – I appreciate it more than I sincerely love it. I admire the man because he is most certainly one of the most influential artists in rock n' roll that has ever approached a mic and he is probably, along wih The Beatles of course, the father of „musical reinvention“ in rock music. You could argue that The Beatles shocked the world once with their radical reinvention, when the famous Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was introduced to the world – Bowie did it at least 4 times.

The album Low is one of his big departures – after his Ziggy Stardust glam rock days, over the „plastic soul“ days of Young Americans, Bowie got inspired by the 70's Krautrock movement that was radically expanding its electro-influences all over Europe (Kraftwerk, Neu! and Can, to name a few bands) and made his famous „Berlin trilogy“ – the records Low, Heroes and Lodger, who are today, despite their relatively limited commercial success, Bowie's most influential and respected albums (mind you, it's called the Berlin trilogy because the albums were recorded in Berlin – but in fact, only „Heroes“ was the one that was recorded entirely in West Berlin; Low was actually only mixed there).

Yeah, it's a pompous introduction, but Low is really a profound musical experience, one which Bowie was never able to replicate. It's a special record for sure – there are quite a few unexpected, even bizarre moments on it – half of the songs are instrumental, the ambient sound is unmistakenly European (big kudos to Brian Eno, without whom this album would never come to pass), the unique cold atmosphere is definitely not accessible to everyone, but listening to this one in a night train while going through Central Europe is when one really can start getting it (for example - at least for me). The first half of the record is unexpectedly radio-friendly, with some well-known tracks like the infectious Sound and Vision and the memorable Be My Wife. The main strength of the record is its flow; the tracks segue wonderfully one into another, until we are thrown a curveball in the second half of the record, which is reserved for the electronic, Eno-covered, cold instrumentals, which are the highlight of the record, especially the beautiful closer Subterraneans, along with the album's classic Warszawa, whose gloomy, but emotional instrumentation wonderfully depicts one city's awful fate. The layered production is the courtesy of Tony Visconti – kudos for delivering on such an ambitious mission; I especially enjoy the very characteristic sound of drums on the album. There are plenty of other highlights which I won't mention now, but if you're feeling up for some electronic, cold late 70's sound, I'm sure you'll find plenty of highlights when listening to Low.

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