From the Superman: Red Son series. There’s no real reason for this picture. It’s gratuitous, has zero to do with the Below The Words spiel I’m regularly engaging in. I like the picture and I like the concept. It panders to my alternate universe spin-out. It reminds me that the proletariat had better get on with it – I’ve a great deal riding upon the red flags. Have sickle, have hammer, have stereo.
So while I’m waiting: performance art pin-up for a particular peculiar; Laurie Anderson performing “Born, Never Asked” from 1982’s Big Science album (yes, this also contained the far-better known “O, Superman”, which links in with the above picture as if we all need further proof of what a small world this may as well be).
I’ve yet to consult Eric Hobsbawn upon the stand we should be taking in regards performance art; I’m imagining that we find it terribly self-indulgent and spectacularly bourgeois (I recall once watching one of Leigh Bowery’s theatrical oopsies – that managed to be terribly self-indulgent, spectacularly bourgeois and crap).
But this isn’t about dismissing Laurie Anderson with a fickle sweep of ill-thought-out bibble. Big Science is an interesting record, defined by a minimalistic approach to the sound. It’s ingrained; the what’s not there being just as important as the actual, physical laying of vox and instrumentation upon magnetic tape. “Born, Never Asked” is a good example of that. Like intrigue, the edgy, wailed lament of the mutated violin is buried deep within the mix:
Laurie Anderson / Born, Never Asked
And all that would be terribly lovely if it weren’t for the ulterior motive of featuring this track. Pure Phase, track #8. This is a sublimely grander version of the tune; as a subset of the wider, drone infusion that the entire album is dominated by, it’s cantilevered perfectly between “Take Good Care Of It” and the deep, lush buzz-swell of “Electric Mainline”. By loading up upon orchestration and discarding the spoken-word elements, J Spaceman manages to draw out the coy dissonance of the original. It grows bolder this way, elements still lurking but sounding ready to pounce at any second…
So yeah. From Superman to the confessions of a fellow traveller to the sheer benediction of Spiritualized albums. It’s always thus. I’m secretly proud that I manage to write about anything else. You can yawn now… I’m going back to the stereo.