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CRITICS ABOUT OUTSIDE

Ingrid Sischy, Interview, September 1995 

Outside the first of what he hopes will be a series ending in the year 1999. Indeed, listening to it I felt that he'd caught what life feels like in these last few years of the millennium. There's the sense of chaos, fear, loss, fragmentation, disease, violence, and waiting but there's also an incredible soulfulness, and sometimes the beauty of the record is so big and uplifting that it makes you feel like you're in a cathedral in the Middle Ages being transported, the way people were then...His new album is like a banner for the ways in which if one is really willing to work at discovery new bridges can be made between points that seem very far apart.

Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, 10/1/95

Through a series of cinematic soundscapes, by turns sinister, oblique and hypnotic, it masterfully conveys an aura of dislocation, the emotional travelogue of an alienated stranger...BOWIE and Eno approach sound the way a visual artist approaches color, drawing on a palette of textures and moods rather than fixating on notes and chords. It makes for a sensual sound, ambiguous yet evocative, that like a fine painting is best appreciated after several viewings/hearings.

Edna Gundersen, USA Today, 9/27/95

On his dark and disturbing concept album, BOWIE's first collaboration with Brian Eno since they produced 70's trilogy Low, Heroes and Lodger, were introduced to an insane lad who commits ritual art murders. BOWIE's vocals are as compelling as ever against a throbbing patchwork of Gothic art rock and industrialized techno.

David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 10/19/95

Bowie sings with full-bodied vigor and an affecting drama that suits the burned-orange tinge of his and Eno's industrial-apocalypse soundscapes. BOWIE digs into the plastic rattling funk of Thru' These Architects Eyes with a ragged enthusiasm, and his simple, shattering delivery of the words I shake in The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)The broadcasts the homicidal delirium of the song much more effectively than the heavy mental title...Outside has irresistible charms: the tense Euro-dance propulsion of Hearts Filthy Lesson; the layered, circular-guitar locomotion of Voyeur..., like Phillip Glass in a King Crimson mood. Hallo Spaceboy is the sound of BOWIE and Eno going nuclear on Trent Reznor's death-disco dance floor, hot-wiring the migraine gallop of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life into a ferociously distorted whirl of slaughterhouse jive.

Rick Moody, New York Times, 9/10/95

By returning to the kind of apocalyptic unease that marked earlier records like Diamond Dogs or Low, by reuniting with Mr. Eno, the only producer in the last 15 years who has found the plaintiveness in Mr. BOWIE's voice and by assembling a band willing to play and work with ideas, DAVID BOWIE has made a recording that forces comparisons with his finest albums of the 70's.

Sandy Masuo, Los Angeles Times, 9/9/95

David Bowie's greatest moments occurred in the often treacherous nether world where art and rock overlap: Ziggy Stardust, Scary Monsters, his late-70s trilogy with Brian Eno. Working with Eno once more, BOWIE returns to that realm with a concept album designed to be a kind of virtual soundtrack. The 19 tracks evoke a variety of moods and images. In Hearts Filthy Lesson a jagged Fashion-esque edge slices through the lush layers of sound alongside whorls of piano. The frenetic Hallo Spaceboy posits Major Tom reborn as an earthbound go-go boy trapped in the fast lane. Strangers When We Meet is a gently shimmying up-temp ballad cut from the same cloth as Heroes.

Jeremy Helligar, People, 10/16/95

Bowie is back on eccentric musical turf. Hearts Filthy Lesson, the albums opening single, bounces about like industrial hip hop on speed, while the title song has all the gothic sweep of such stratospheric BOWIE anthems as Space Oddityand Ashes To Ashes. And sounding truly scary, the singer takes a cue from Nine Inch Nails, the special guests on his current U.S. tour, and whips Hallo Spaceboy into a riotous frenzy. Such outbursts may be a bit rough on the ears, but then BOWIE at his best was never easy listening.

Dean Kuipers, huH, September 1995

And the Duke is rocking so hard. Call it the Brian Eno touch, who produced this album and is working with BOWIE for the first time since their incredible triptych Low, Heroes, and Lodger changed the definition of rock & roll forever in 1977-78, but there are very few of the fully developed musical tracks on Outside that are not crushing. In the manner of Genghis Kahn. This is in no way an ambient music. It is not trendy. This is rock, but not any kind of rock you've heard before. It is not the all-out classic Mick Ronson/guitar/Mike Garson cracked piano genius of Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane, but a new electronic music of the potent Eno/BOWIE interface, coming at the height of what may one day be considered the Age of Electronic Rock Albums. Each piece rings with such authority that even the most accomplished producers must be twitching in their headphones.

Gareth Grundy, Select, October -95

Documentary proof that appearances in "Hello!" corrode the brain. "Outside" is fanfared, somewhat pompously, as a soundtrack to an as yet unmade film - about art crime and millennial trauma. Bowie thinks it's not an album at all, but a "non-linear Gothic-drama hyper-cycle" If he thinks high art is a cunning way to illustrate end-of-century angst, he's clearly so far up his own behind he can nibble his lower intestine.

"Outside" then, is the daftest thing Bowie's done since he pranced about under a giant crystal arachnid for the Glass Spider tour. He's also got old sparring partner Brian Eno on board for the first time since '79s "The Lodger", mind. So, amid standard Eno ambient clunking, pretentious mumbling, and an unfettered grand piano obsession, we get flashes of the old Dave we'd all love to hear again. "Hallo Spaceboy"'s sci-fi pop is a new, quasi-industrial "Space Oddity", and the discordant rumblings of "No Control" and "We Prick You" are the only time he manages the glorious alienation he claims for the whole shebang. Otherwise, singing "The 20th Century Dies" simply means Bowie's overdosed on postmodernist philosophers. If it's electronic-age isolation you're after, try Goldie, Tricky or Massive Attack.

Don't be fooled by the renewed Eno association. This is no "Low" or "Heroes" - Brian already redid those tricks on U2's "Achtung Baby" and "Zooropa", anyway. And this quasi-soundtrack format will have Barry Adamson wishing he'd copyrighted his concept. "Outside" is the sound of a superstar discovering "Blade Runner", "Neuromancer" and the Apple Mac a decade after us plebs. (2/5) Soundbite: "Sorry, mate, you can't come in."

 

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