Monday, 23 January 2023

the thin white duke (10. 491)

Released on this day in 1976, David Bowie’s tenth studio album was the major vehicle for the above stage persona and enjoys a legacy, building on the commercial success of his previous record Young Americans to allow more creative liberties in the direction he took this next transitional collection of songs, reflecting an interest in the occult and Aleister Crowley and Nietzsche’s รœbermensch, as a departure but still among his most significant works—with exploration of new styles fully articulated in his Berlin Trilogy of the following year. Recorded in Los Angeles after completing shooting for The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bowie adapted the arc of narrative in the album from a partly autobiographical collection of short stories called The Return of the Thin White Duke he had written while off camera.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

regal zonophone (10. 489)

Composite artist and computer collaborator—I think these partnerships are called centaurs or reverse centaurs depending on one’s perspective on who is doing the driving—Wen Wormhole sits down for an interview with Messy Nessy Chic to talk about the alternate reality of a “Glam Rock Sci-Fi Universe,” with a touch of wrestle-mania energy added to the prompt, that he’s has helped craft with the power of artificial intelligence—see previously.  Learn more about the creative process, techniques and compounding inspiration at the links above, which Wormhole compares to being an art director of a project. What fusions of reality and alternate universe would you create with the help of AI?

Saturday, 14 January 2023

the lower third (10. 415)

Coinciding with the release of the single under the label Pye Records and at the suggestion of his manager and publicist the singer and artist born Davy Jones changed his stage name on this day in 1966 to Davie Bowie—to distinguish himself from the up-and-coming act the Monkees and their Davy Jones. Bowie re-recorded the song for his album Toy after performing it live at a concert in 1999.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening me (10. 328)

Beginning on this day in 1975 and lasting for nine weeks, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the six-minute, multi-part musical suite referred by author Freddie Mercury as a “mock opera” released as a lead single (B-side, “I’m in Love with My Car”) from their studio album A Night at the Opera hit the top of UK’s charts. For the promotional video—credited with spurring on the complementary medium—and for the band’s UK tour, Mercury played on a Bechstein concert grand piano, which was—according to lore—the same one that Paul McCartney used for recording “Hey Jude” and David Bowie’s “Hunky Dory.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

what you need you have to borrow (10. 283)

Artist David Bowie had his US television premiere on this day in 1975 on the Cher Variety Hour  (previously) performing the song Fame, recently composed during a jam-session with flatmate John Lennon (the two lived together during the former Beatle’s period of estrangement from Yoko Ono) and session guitarist Carlos Alomar. One of the most popular features on CBS in the mid-70s, the interview show that lasted for one and one-half seasons came about during her acrimonious split with Sonny Bono which put an end to their Comedy Hour but gave the former couple their own series on the network until they reconciled in 1976 and revived The Sonny & Cher Show.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

7x7 (10. 176)

moonage daydream: an interview with Brett Morgen on the subject of his latest documentary—see previously 

rupture: Nordstream pipelines have sprung a leak, sabotage suspected 

afforestation: a volcanic eruption is helping to rewild island  

eyewall: Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction as it reaches Florida 

omnishambles: the budget plan of PM Truss and Chancellor Kwarteng garners rebuke from Germany, the US and the IMF as the Pound Sterling approaches parity with the dollar  

mahsa: the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police has touched off protests against the government  

let all the children boogie: an Australian museum brought the original hand-written draft of David Bowie’s Starman at auction

Monday, 20 June 2022

glastonbury fayre

The free four-day concert hosted in Pilton—the second Glastonbury festival, opened on this day in 1971 with the venue of a special Pyramid Stage, a one-tenth scale model of the one at Giza constructed of sheet metal and positioned over a water source discovered with dousing and was documented by filmmakers Nicolas Roeg and David Puttnam—released the following May. Performances included numbers by Melanie, David Bowie, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Mighty Baby and Hawkwind.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

the rise and fall of ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars

Released in the UK on this day in 1972, the loosely connected concept album presented as a rock opera relates the arc of narrative in eleven tracks of David Bowie’s titular alter ego sent to Earth to avert an impending apocalyptic event who himself falls short after succumbing to his own inflated ego. Members of the backing band include Trevor Bolder, Mick Ronson and Mick Woodmansey. Ziggy introduces himself in the third song below, Moonage Daydream, as “an exotic hybrid of rock’s past and mankind’s future” among other colourful epithets after the first two numbers present the coming doomsday and characters reacting to unavoidable disaster.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

curtail call

On this day, Easter Monday, in 1992 Wembley Stadium, broadcast live to an estimated global audience of one billion spectators, hosted a tribute concert to Freddie Mercury (previously), whom had died of AIDS-related complications the previous November with proceeds launching an AIDS charity trust. The first part of the concert featured musicians performing short-sets of songs influenced by Queen and the latter section featured performances with the remaining members of the band, including Elton John on piano for “Bohemian Rhapsody” the iconic duet of Annie Lennox and David Bowie singing “Under Pressure.” The final number, “We are the Champions,” was led by Liza Minnelli and included everyone who had participated in the concert.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

7x7

improper fraction arena: Via friend of the blog Nag on the Lake’s superb Sunday Links and the depths of Wikipedia comes a list of articles submitted and ultimately rejected by dint of insanity  

possible to express in words: a useful term with a surprisingly sparse corpora 

reprise: another look at Davie Bowie’s 1973 The 1980 Floor Show through some raw footage—see previously 

a moveable feast: a look at the mode, median and mean dates for Easter and the method of computus  

a kitty bobo show: Kevin Kaliher’s pilot that went ungreen-lit in favour of Kids Next Door  

micromachines: researchers developing tiny molecular motors that could be deployed en masse to suck carbon from the air, supplement our own organs—via Slashdot  

did you know: from the depths to the Main Page

Saturday, 22 January 2022

i had to phone someone so i picked on you

Announcing his sexuality in an interview with Melody Maker magazine reported Michael Watts, published on this day in 1972, David Bowie’s statement, “I’m gay and always have been,” was not unnoticed but failed to register with more mainstream audiences until his performance of Starman with Mick Ronson on Top of the Pops in July of the same year. The article continues: “He despises all these tribal qualifications. Flower Power he enjoyed, but it’s individuality that he’s really trying to preserve. The paradox is that he still has what he describes as ‘a good relationship’ with his wife. And his baby son, Zowie. He supposes he’s what people call bisexual.”

Friday, 14 January 2022

low

The first of three collaborations known as the Berlin Trilogy with Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s eleventh studio album was released by RCA on this day in 1977 and is an exploration of ambient and electronica, influenced by experimental and progressive German bands, like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. A departure from the artist’s usual music-the project started when Bowie and Iggy Pop moved to the French countryside to get away from the temptation of drugs in Los Angeles and sober up and recorded the first tracks at Chรขteau d'Hรฉrouville before relocating to West Berlin-reception was initially divided but the album was a commercial and critical success and is credited with giving rise to the post-punk style with groups like Joy Division, Human League and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in that musical genre. The lyric “Don't look at the carpet-I drew something awful on it” is in refenence of Bowie’s habit of drawing the Tree of Life diagram on the studio floor during breaks into between sessions, having cultivated an interest in Qabalah and Thelema during that period.

Monday, 10 January 2022

6x6

curiosity cabinet: virtually explore the museum house of Sir John Soane (previously)—via Things Magazine  

glitchy terrain: users and clients report bugs in fly-over features (see previously)—via Super Punch  

debate club: let’s thrash out these ongoing arguments once and for all  

low, heroes, lodger: a look at the Eastern European literature that influenced David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and beyond  

medico-mechanical gymnastics: the nineteenth century work-out regiment of Gustave Zander—see previously 

 ex libris: a look into some of the great libraries of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria

Friday, 17 December 2021

hunky dory

The titular fourth studio album released on this day in 1971 by a twenty-four year old David Bowie was a departure from the guitar-dominant The Man Who Sold the World from a year before with a softer piano composition, backed by Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey on drums—the group that would form the Spiders from Mars within the next year. The track listing from this monumental recording that defined the artist includes “Changes, “Oh—You Pretty Things,” “Life on Mars” and “Andy Warhol.”

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

he’s so simple-minded, can’t drive his module

Released on this day in 1972 as the lead single from Aladdin Sane and recorded with his backing band the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie’s composition was an inspired assortment of supposed American trappings with the song’s protagonist a reference to criminal vagabond and French existential playwright Jean Genet, beginning its development as an improvised jam session on a tour bus between Cleveland and Memphis. The title lyric became the namesake of the 1977 Glasgow band Simple Minds. He bites on the neon and sleeps in the capsule. Loves to be loved.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

7x7

kรกdรกr cube: a practical, mass-produced boxy house (Magyar ร‰pรญtล‘mลฑvรฉszet) from Communist-era Hungary is staging a comeback 

the new english canaan: revisiting the banned publication that mocked American’s puritanical ways—see also  

you’ve got a habit of leaving: the first single from the unreleased David Bowie album, coming in January

merfolk and melusine: tritons and mermaids entertained by enlightened minds 

facebookland: the social media giant ought to be treated like the autocratic rogue state it is—via Waxy 

roll over beethoven: a team of musicologists using artificial intelligence complete the composer’s unfinished tenth symphony—to premier in Bonn next month, via Kottke  

ะณะพัั‚ะธะฝั‹ะน ะดะฒะพั€: a rotating arch for a shopping arcade in St. Petersburg—via Pasa Bon!

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

hey mister dj

Via Waxy, we are directed to this preternatural, surreal algorithm that rather expertly, uncannily will make a mashup of any number of songs from a group-watch streaming service, RaveDJ generating a set-list in the spirit of our friends at Hood Internet are presumably doing the old-fashioned way. It really shows its surprising competency with mixes like Gangnam Style crossed with MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This or The Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams and Seven Nation Army from White Stripes. Browse the submissions or create your own and share. Always of the opinion that lamentful number from My Fair Lady and David Bowie’s song about getting to the church on time flowed into each other and had complementary energy so I gave it a whirl, our disc jockey creating “Why Modern a Love Be More Like a Man” but as the lengths seemed a little incompatible and needs a bit more refinement, please instead for now check out this preview of one of the mashups cited above to see its full virtuosity.

Monday, 23 August 2021

i never did anything out of the blue

Coming in at number one of the UK charts on this day in 1980, David Bowie’s following-up on the narrative for Major Tom, a darker bookmarking of the intervening decade, is described as a nuanced retelling of a nursery rhyme with its attendant cautionary tale. Co-directed by Bowie and David Mallet (also collaborating on “Boys Keep Swinging,” “DJ,” and “Look Back in Anger” and Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays”), the music video, costing a quarter million pounds to produce, was the most expensive at the time and features the performer dressed as pantomime, commedia dell’arte stock character Pierrot, the sad, introspective clown.

Friday, 20 August 2021

davy jones & the lower third

Released on this day in 1965, singer-songwriter David Bowie was billed for the final time under his birth name with the title band’s single “You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving” to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees (previously). The performer adopted the stage name after the romanticised version of nineteenth century American mercenary and pioneer James Bowie, famous for the eponymous style of combat knife.

Friday, 6 August 2021

the nomi song

Born Klaus Sperber in Swรคbish Immenstadt in 1944, aspiring counter tenor who adopted the stage persona Klaus Nomi, worked as an usher in the opera houses of West Berlin, entertaining the crew during set breakdowns with arias and studied music yet was unable to secure a steady position and so switched to the confectionary business which later became somewhat of a trademark. Moving to New York City in 1973, Nomi received more professional training and took various gigs performing and developing his presence. His breakthrough moment came in 1979 when David Bowie engaged Nomi as a background singer during performances on Saturday Night Live as musical guest. Being discovered afforded more venues for his unique shows whose robotic demeanour and elaborate costuming both anticipating and reflected the stage presence of acts like Bowie’s and Peter Gabriel and reinterpreted songs like Marlene Dietrich’s “Falling in Love Again” and Chubby Checker’s “Twist” as well as classical, operatic numbers in an abstract, highly synthesised fashion. The black and white palette complemented by cubist clothes and hair-styles that referenced both the Bauhaus theatre movement, kabuki and the retro-future vision of the 1920s—particularly the film Metropolis. A decade after coming to New York, Nomi was diagnosed with AIDS and though growing sick and weak already embarked on a European tour and the talk show circuit, anticipating it would be his last, Nomi dying of complications of the disease on this day in 1983. One of the first figures from the arts community to publically die from the relatively then unknown illness, Nomi became posthumously the subject of many tributes and homages, acknowledging his stylistic influence.