In 2001, David Bowie quietly dropped this compilation of his instrumental tracks on to an unsuspecting public. I’m pretty sure the public still suspects nothing. It’s a shame, really, because some of Bowie’s weirdest music is on this disc.
I listened to this album for the first time last night while failing to get to sleep. I’d had it for years, but just never found the time. I love most of these pieces, but it’s unsurprising I’ve never dived into the compilation before. Most of these tracks are pulled from “Low” and “Heroes” which are such monumentally amazing works of genius, I usually listen to the whole album rather than skipping around.
That said, it’s a very meditative album with a lot to be said for its ability to chill the listener out. It’s also, probably more than anything, a tribute to the massive effect Bowie’s work with Brian Eno had on him for the rest of his life. A lot of these songs, taken away from the context of their original albums, feel like something from Eno’s ambient records of the same period of the late 1970’s.
Even among Bowie fans, I hear little of this album–again, these songs seem so inessential, and therefore their compilation little more than a curiosity. Nevertheless, their grouping is worthwhile, and it makes the pieces stand on their own–without the surrounding brilliance of the rest of the album to bolster them. They do stand the test of time, and I was sad when the album was over. It says something that the soothing qualities of the music did nothing to cure my insomnia, but rather fueled my imagination.