it's roots in
Station to Station
, as we addressed in my
Station to Station
creation is rooted in Bowie's unreleased soundtrack to
The Man Who Fell to Earth.
A Nicolas Roeg film in which Bowie played an extremely intelligent, aloof alien by the name of Thomas Newton. Indeed both 'Weeping Wall' and 'Subterraneans' have both been attributed to theaborted project. It is likely only parts of the said tracks are actually found on the final cut. Though,to what extent it's hard to say, the bass-line for Subterraneans in particular is often rumoured to befrom the aborted soundtrack. While the soundtrack to the film remains unreleased it is hard to reallysay how much of it made it's way on to
However, what it does tell us, is that the album was notsolely a Brian Eno influenced creation. Bowie was beginning to write music, in this vein, 12 monthsearlier.
Station to Station,
uses a still from Roeg's film as the album cover, which is rumoured to be a visual expansion on the albums title. On the cover Bowie, as Thomas Newton or The ThinWhite Duke persona, is shown in profile. Low+Profile=Low Profile. Cutting analysis this is!But seriously, this in some ways, is exactly what Bowie was trying to achieve. A
profile. It's1977, punk has happened, the established order is being torn apart by the sneering, young andrelevant Johnny Rotten (all the things he isn't now), The Clash, The Damned and The Buzzcocks.Music has a new swagger, a new dance and a new beat. A new look.What Bowie had achieved earlier in the decade with Ziggy Stardust had been wiped away. Punk wiped everything away, it changed the way people think. Everything since punk has beeninfluenced by punk. EVERYTHING. Punk. Changed. The. World. So, given the power of such amovement, Bowie chose to keep a low profile and do his own thing. This was a master stroke,alongside Roxy Music, the New York Dolls and reggae acts like Steel Pulse, he was embraced andchampioned by punks, not ridiculed, classed as dinosaurs, in the same way The Beatles and TheRolling Stones were.It is always important to never understate just how experimental and brave Low was as an album.Bowie at the time was an internationally famous artist. A rock star. A popstar. A trend setter, whohad just a few years earlier enjoyed an American number one with Lennon collaboration 'Fame'.And here he is, releasing an album, to almost no promotion and no supporting tour, which is mostlyinstrumental and almost entirely lacking a song written in a conventional structure. Never mind a pop song. Musicians on the whole just don't do that, especially in recent years. That's why musictoday is crap and why Bowie is a legend.Brian Eno, the former Roxy Music 'bleeps and bloops' man, had carved a name for himself as being part of music's avant garde at the time and to this day. His work with Roxy Music and his first soloalbum
Here Come the Warm Jets,
marked the beginning of his experiments with music from the position of the non-musician. However, it is on his fantastic
Another Green World
we see a hybridof a rock and roll album, combined with musical experimentation. Which came in the form of instrumentals and the construction of suggestive sonic soundscapes. These soundscapes teleport thelistener in to different environments, through sound they suggest geography, mood and sensation.Low, being half instrumental uses the same techniques, the idea of three minute pictures throughsound. A postcard from space.It is said that David Bowie and Brian Eno's relationship dates as far back as 1970, the two meetingat a Philip Glass concert. Their relationship was to be re-established six years later when Eno was inattendance for Bowie's Station to Station tour at Wembley Stadium, meeting back stage. Eno was to be in attendance on the tour again during a date in Paris on the same tour, the two again were tomeet back stage.