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David Bowie -

"HEROES"

David Bowie

 

Prog Related

3.95 | 205 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If "Low" had taken some fans and music critics by surprise, "Heroes" had the advantage of building up on that same surprise and display an elaborated approach to the new musical pursuits traced by David Bowie in communion with Brian Eno. The "Heroes" album, when compared to "Low", features a more robust and fuller approach to the rocking numbers, as well as a less deep approach to the ambient- oriented compositions. It is, in few words, a bit more architectonical and a bit less varied regarding textures, but all in all, a logical continuation of the sonic framework pursed in "Low" without reaching for formula repetition. The opener and track 2, 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Joe the Lion', very much instill stamina and good vibrations with a reasonable portion of neurotic energy: the use of a female chorale helps to introduce a certain R'n'B vibe into them, in this way exploring the celebratory side of rock'n'roll and perpetuating the glam standards that Bowie never really got rid of in the 70s throughout his musical reinventions. The title track is one of the most distinctive Bowie anthems ever: the solid riffs, Fripp's soaring guitar leads that cut through the air with hopeless melancholy, the subtle harmonic adornments, all of them are conjured to express the immense sadness of two lovers separated by political tragic, pointless circumstances (in this particular case, the Berlin Wall). This is a real gem of rock's history, so nothing that I can say about 'Heroes' in this review can really add anything new. But if I can say anything meaningful here, I will say that it is great and majestic like only Bowie at his best can be. Another majestic track is 'Sons of the Silent Age', whose sense of drama is even more oppressive (if not as majestic) than the previous song: the sad melodies are treated in a way that the overall sound feels really claustrophobic. 'Blackout' reinstates the rocking vibe of tracks 1 and 2, but with a more aggressive attitude and a bigger sense of tension regarding the instrumental elaboration. This is the sort of thing that I found missing most of the rockers included in "Low". The album's second half is mostly devoted to the sort of instrumental explorations that had made the best of the legendary "Low": in "Heroes", they also work as especially valuable items, although they fail to match that deep eeriness of the "Low" counterparts. 'V-2 Schneider' is a high-spirited homage to the rock side of krautrock, sounding pretty much in the mould of Neu!, despite the fact that it was written as a thankful tribute to Kraftwerk (Bowie was mentioned in the electronic classic 'Trans-Europe Express' one year before). After this uplifting piece comes a trilogy of exercises on introspective ambiences. 'Sense of Doubt' delivers a manifestation of doom through the caustic grave piano chord and unearthly synth layers. 'Moss Garden' sounds like something out of a Vangelis' album recycled reshaped by the people of Cluster: the sonic dewdrops incarnated on the koto's strings and the liquid allusions played on synth work out their intended meditative mood. Meditation goes and sadness comes in the mysteriously disturbing 'Neuköln', which in many ways recaptures the yearning unease of 'Subterraneans' (from "Low") - as always, Bowie's sax lines fill the air in a robust fashion. The albums is closed down by the catchy 'The Secret Life of Arabia', which states a weird yet appealing mixture of exotic Eastern and Latin-jazz over a solid funky-rock pace. When the fade-out arrives, I usually regret that this track isn't a bit longer, but I equally feel thankful for the introduction of an ethereal wall of sound during the repetitive instrumental interlude. With "Heroes", David Bowie gives us yet another excellent opus that deserves a mandatory place in any good art-rock collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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