Collection: 1. David Bowie - Low

Exhausted from his fame and the excesses that came with it, David Bowie decamped to Berlin in 1976. As he detoxed from celebrity and controlled substances, he righted himself by immersing in art, striking up a collaboration with Brian Eno—former wildcard in Roxy Music—while retaining his partnership with Tony Visconti, the producer who first worked with Bowie in 1969. That continuity is a key factor in Low, a record that hurtles toward an undefined future while embracing ambiguity.

Low has sly structure throughout. All the dreamscape instrumentals on the second side shimmer, but they’re not freeform; they’re composed. The first side is underpinned by the avant-funk of guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray, and drummer Dennis Davis, the same trio that played on Station to Station. But while that 1976 record remains a height of Bowie's self-indulgence—its title track sprawls out over 10 minutes—Low is stripped to its basics, often containing nothing more than a rhythm track or a glassy wash of synthesizers. It lingers as a savvy artistic choice but also a pragmatic decision born out of angst: Bowie was suffering a severe case of writer’s block. It’s a situation he addresses directly on “Sound and Vision,” in which he sits in a room, waiting for the muse to arrive. In the song, Bowie is passive and depressed here, and elsewhere on Low, his melancholy is even more palpable; “Warszawa” floats in a meditative reverie, haunting in its glum pallor, spiked with guttural harmonies and high yelps. Its scant vocals are voluble, in context; Bowie originally planned to sing on several cuts, including the opening “Speed of Life,” but either couldn't find the words or decided they’d be better as stark, vivid instrumentals.

Still, Low isn’t a sad album because it wields a fierce sense of adventure. Its core asks how to find a way out of darkness, then does so brilliantly. At his lowest point, Bowie forced himself to reimagine his creative process, retaining parts of his past while pushing forward. Low is an album about rebirth, which is why it still possesses the power to startle. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine /

1 product
    Regular price
    Sale price
    Regular price
    Unit price
    Sold out