David Bowie - Low (1977)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 2:57 AM

The genesis of Low lies in both the foundations laid by Bowie's previous album Station to Station, and music he intended for the soundtrack to The Man Who Fell to Earth. When Bowie presented his material for the film to Nicolas Roeg, the director decided that it would not be suitable. Roeg preferred a more folksy sound, although John Phillips (the chosen composer for the soundtrack) described Bowie's contributions as "haunting and beautiful". Elements from these pieces were incorporated into Low instead. The album's cover, like Station to Station, is a still from the movie: the photographic image, juxtaposed with the album's title, formed a deliberate pun on the phrase "low profile".
Following the release of the cocaine-fueled Station to Station, Bowie began to rekindle his interest in art. As a recovering cocaine addict (although he never fully dropped the habit and continued to use sporadically during recording and mixing) his songwriting on Low tended to deal with difficult issues; many of the songs concern lethargy, depression, estrangement, or self-destructive behaviour. Producer Tony Visconti contended that the title was partly a reference to Bowie's "low" moods during the album's writing and recording.
The format of the album was unusual for its time: side one contained short, direct song-fragments; side two comprised longer, mostly instrumental tracks. On these tracks help was lent by ex-Roxy Music keyboardist and conceptualist Brian Eno, who brought along his EMS 'suitcase' AKS synthesizer (Bowie was later given this particular synthesizer as a birthday present after a friend obtained it in an auction). Often incorrectly given credit as Low's producer, Eno was responsible for a good deal of the direction and composition of the second side of the album and actually wrote the theme and instrumentation for "Warszawa" while Bowie was in Paris attending court hearings against his former manager. Eno in turn was helped by producer Tony Visconti's four-year-old son who sat next to Eno playing A, B, C in a constant loop at the studio piano. This phrase became the "Warszawa" theme. On Bowie's return Eno played him the work which impressed Bowie who then quickly composed the vaguely Eastern European-sounding lyrics.
Although the music was influenced by German bands such as Kraftwerk and Neu!, Low has been acclaimed for its originality and is considered ahead of its time, not least for its cavernous treated drum sound created by producer Visconti using an Eventide Harmonizer.On the release of Low, Visconti received phone calls from other producers asking how he had made this unique sound, but would not give up the information, instead asking each producer how they thought it had been done.
Tracks
01. Speed of Life (2:46)
02. Breaking Glass (1:51)
03. What in the World (2:23)
04. Sound and Vision (3:03)
05. Always Crashing in the Same Car (3:29)
06. Be My Wife (2:55)
07. A New Career in a New Town (2:51)
08. Warszawa (6:20)
09. Art Decade (3:43)
10. Weeping Wall (3:26)
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