April 29, 2004

Test Spin: David Bowie

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In his rise, Ziggy Stardust was something incredible in all of his acid-drenched androgyny. Twenty-five years later, Ziggy hit the ground, fractured his skull, dropped some ecstasy, wired himself to a $30 Casio keyboard, and grabbed the filthiest of polyester-clad clubgoers to grind against.
The reissue of Earthling, David Bowie’s 1997 foray into the steadily deteriorating world of drum’n’bass, serves only to remind us of how brutal the landing was. The album clicks, groans, bleeps, and buzzes with the agonized lament of a dying synthesizer. Bowie heaps bass lines snatched from The Prodigy on top of his digitally masticated voice and then defecates on them with Trent Reznor’s industrial sludge. Songs like “Battle for Britain” and “Law” blend portentous lyrical posturing with some of the worst synth lines of the last twenty years. Nintendo was more creative in its heyday. Not even songs like “Dead Man Walking,” with its propulsive, fuzzed out thrust, can pad his slam-landing. Bowie was blessed with the gift of adaptation, outlasting the epochs of taste like a sea turtle. But Earthling is a casualty of those prog-electronica times, and someone should cover over the corpse before it attracts flies.

Archived article by Zach Jones
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer