Volume 93, Issue 28
Wednesday, October 20, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Bowie's Hours... time well spent
David Bowie's 23rd album, entitled Hours... was originally intended to be the soundtrack to a video game. Given this fact and assuming the album is a continuation of the sound he developed on his two previous albums, 1. Outside and Earthling, this could be forgiven.
However, instead of another dissonant combination of hard rock and drum 'n' bass, Hours... is a more subdued collection which focuses squarely on melody.
Bowie continues to experiment with sound and state-of-the-art technology on the album, but the result is much more listenable and accessible. Hours... is a thoroughly modern-sounding album with elements throughout which will remind fans of his work in the '70s. These songs may make this album more attractive to his older fans. The best example of this is the driving rocker "New Angels Of Promise," which sounds as if it could be a track off of his earlier CD, Scary Monsters.
The lead track and first single, "Thursday's Child," is one of the album's highlights, as is the last song, "The Dreamers." Both are cutting edge, mature pop/rock songs with haunting melodies, lingering with the audience long after the first listen.
The primarily acoustic ballads "Seven" and "If I'm Dreaming My Life" are other strong points, the latter a complex song with several different musical sections. Bowie also breaks out his full scale ability for many of these songs, making his vocals as interesting as the music.
After 10 years of playing and collaborating with Bowie, guitarist Reeves Gabriels finally comes into his own. Rather than his trademark shrieks and squeals which get annoying over the course of an entire CD, Gabriels plays fully formed riffs and some surprisingly fluid solos on this effort. His playing on the instrumental track "Brilliant Adventure" is the best example of this, where he pics out a delicate lead line.
A strong, varied collection, Hours... is David Bowie's best album in a long time a consistent and satisfying release.
Aaron St. John
Two years after "Bitch" hit the airwaves, giving Meredith Brooks a taste of the pop spotlight, she has returned with a sophomore effort, deconstruction.
An album rich with observations of modern society as it nears the next millennium, deconstruction is a solid offering. Brooks herself is quite difficult to place she's the result of trapping Amy Grant, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morrisette in an elevator for an afternoon.
The album kicks off with a string of catchy tracks, including "Shout" and "Lay Down (candles in the rain)," which features the rap stylings of Queen Latifah. While the catchiness remains dominant throughout, Brooks maintains a serious side with songs like "Nobody's Home," which is about the suicide of a young woman.
Lyrically, Brooks is both clever and positive. Although victim of a truly stupid title, "Cosmic WooWoo" glows with lines like "Spirituality is a henna tattoo/that you wash off when you find something new to get into." The strong presence of positivity sets deconstruction apart from other albums, as Brooks sings about finding one's own voice and being real.
Despite its strengths, parts of the album become tiring after a couple of listens. Songs begin to sound the same and Brooks' voice lacks the endearing quality which draws listeners back again and again.
The album isn't overly daring musically and would have been better off if songs like, "Bored With Myself" and "Careful What You Wish For" were left out completely.
With deconstruction, Meredith Brooks continues to do what she's best at creating catchy popular tunes. While this isn't change-your-life or rock-your-world music, it isn't soulless, saturated smut ˆ la Mariah Carey, either.
Breakfast Of Champions
Whether you've heard of Breakfast Of Champions as Kurt Vonnegut's seminal piece of literature, or as Bruce Willis' odd new movie, the soundtrack for the film is a real winner.
Composer Maritn Denny is most recognized for his Hawaiian based jazz trio and their ride to fame during the '50s and '60s.
Written in what musicologists refer to as exotica, the soundtrack is a flowing exhibition of unconventional instrumentation. Fooling the listener into believing they're sitting in a bamboo lounge, this lush and dreamy soundtrack would be the perfect background to seduction.
Denny has created a symphony of random sounds, including animal calls, all to compliment his own emotional instrumental efforts. The record begins with "Coronation," performed by exotica legend Les Baxter, which strikes the listener immediately with what sounds like the jungle howl of some exotic animal.
In addition to dense bongo and tom beats, Denny's gently wafting vibraphone creates a quirky dream world complete with actual bells and whistles, creating an uplifting beginning to the soundtrack.
As the album continues, however, it moves into a much darker, tortured tone. Track titles such as "Oro (God Of Vengeance)" and "Cobra" the latter of which displays a distinctly Middle Eastern sound leave the listener wondering what somber moment in the film the song was written to reflect.
Many of the tracks are quite emotionally provocative, including its mellow finish. Listeners should be warned this isn't a conventional soundtrack. Then again, Denny has never been a conventional composer.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999