Daily Dose: ‘Subterraneans’ by David Bowie

On the flip side to accessible, easy-to listen to music, there is experimentation, which you can be damn sure that not everyone is going to like but at least it’s something different. David Bowie’s middle name was experimentation, rarely more so than when he moved to Berlin after becoming a glam pop sensation and decided to release three albums with more in common with ambient electronica than with Ziggy Stardust. Minimalist, ambient music was hardly brand new by the time that Bowie (at the time teamed up with Brian Eno and sharing an apartment with Iggy Pop) got to it, but it marked yet another shift in his musical focus, so much so that by the time that Low(1977), the album this is taken from, was prepared for mass consumption, almost as many people associated with Bowie attempted to stop it coming out as those that were actually trying to release it. I’m a huge fan of Arty Minimalistic Bowie, preferring him (for instance) to subsequent Disco Pop Bowie and Bizarre Industrial Bowie, and while my favourite Bowie album remains Diamond Dogs, tracks like this, the last one from the album, make me think about changing my mind. Okay, it’s arty as all heck, what with the alien instrumentation, singing in an invented language, and gratuitous saxophone, but it’s still pretty amazing if you’re in the mood for something very atmospheric. It’s beautiful, and strange, and it has Eno’s influence all over it, (not always a good thing) and for better or worse it sounds like it could have been made five years ago or fifty. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but the Berlin trilogy albums will have people falling over themselves to praise them in perpetuity, so everyone probably owes it to themselves to check them out and decide what they think for themselves.


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