As well as Reeves Gabrels from Tin Machine days, Bowie digs into his past here. So, joining him on 'music creating' duties are Eno, Mike Garson, and Carlos Alomar. Garson was responsible for those wonderful piano lines on Aladdin Sane
, Alomar for the lauded Young Americans
, and Eno of course requires no introduction.
Bowie apparently had hundreds of hours worth of material ready to be worked into a three album concept, similar to 'The Berlin Trilogy', except with an actual narrative weaving its way throughout. The story involved a series of art murders. So we meet Nathan Adler, runaway Baby Grace, various victims and suspects, and a jewellery store owner by the name of Ramona A Stone. Bowie takes on all these roles through short spoken sections here and there, which are best ignored. The music on this album is enough to stand on its own.
Indeed, we get some of the most brilliant and inventive music of Bowie's entire career. He seamlessly combines heavy industrial rhythms (inspired by Nine Inch Nails), Heavy Rock, Dance, and Techno. His vocals are worth a mention too, also covering many different forms - some of the songs are inherently uncommercial and experimental, others sport very hummable melodies.
Listeners are used to Bowie changing his sound over the years, but the majority of this content is vastly different from anything he'd presented before. At the time, some critics were sceptical, and fans were split down the middle. Ten years later, there is a growing respect for this work as heralding a rejuvenated Bowie, further represented by more recent works such as Heathen
I don't know where to begin when mentioning highlights, low points, or inbetweens. The low points - if they can be called that - are often the more experimental works that ditch conventional song structures, they're more mood pieces to be admired rather than actively enjoyed. Elsewhere, there are some storming songs proper.
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews