Monday, May 07, 2012

The Heart's Filthy Lesson

By and large, the David Bowie albums of the 1990s have been grossly misunderstood. The ever fickle music press predictably accused Bowie of jumping on the bandwagon that was carrying whatever musical genre was in vogue at the moment, and it was 1995’s 'Outside' that netted the most vehement censure. In retrospect, most of the criticism seemed unwarranted and certainly unjustified. 'Outside' was actually nearly faultless, even by Bowie's exacting standards, and was in fact a bit of a throwback to the Berlin trilogy days of the splendid creative triumvirate of 'Low', 'Heroes' and 'Lodger'. The admittedly avant-garde 'Outside' was envisioned as a “non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle”, and recounted the adventures of one Nathan Adler, a private eye investigating a series of so-called art crimes over the course of three decades. Musically, 'Outside' is built upon a framework that is largely industrial in nature, borrowing liberally from acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. While this may make for a slightly inaccessible body of work, the dizzying level of creativity and sheer vision at work here more than make up for any perceived artistic insularity. Check out 'The Heart's Filthy Lesson', an industrial-rock nugget bound within the rigid strictures of routine white noise, given additional character by an on-and-off sampled-guitar riff and some modern-jazz piano noodling. Its video was a gleeful but considered visual exploration of the ritual body art scene, featuring an unsettling tableau of artistic bodily mutilations and disturbing objets d'art.


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