Skipping right over David Bowie’s commercial and critical peak years of the ’70s and early ’80s (and directing you to my earlier post about the creative resurgence I see building from Black Tie White Noise onwards – sorry, the songs are no longer up), I’ll pick up with the nearly invisible album recorded in between BTWN and Outside: the Buddha of Suburbia soundtrack. For some reason, this release had trouble getting known, particularly in the US, where it was delayed for a year. It appears to have sunk nearly without trace. There are a couple of songs on the album, but as a soundtrack, it’s primarily instrumental as you’d expect. One of the better ones is “South Horizon,” which finds Bowie continuing to explore the sort of jazz influences that found him hiring trumpeter Lester Bowie (no, no relation) on BTWN. Here, multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kizilcay plays the trumpet, again in a sort of post-Miles fashion, over a drifting, ambient series of chords and Mike Garson’s immediately recognizable piano. (He played on “Aladdin Sane.” Yep, that kind of piano.) Coincidentally, Bowie’s former creative co-conspirator Brian Eno (with whom Bowie would reunite on Outside) was also experimenting with a jazz-inflected sound around this time, with several tracks on 1992’s Nerve Net working in a similar vein.
Speaking of Eno, “The Mysteries” sounds like an updated, calmer version of some of the instrumental pieces Eno produced on Low and Heroes.
I’ll post my favorite song from The Buddha of Suburbia, “Bleed Like a Craze, Dad,” which sounds at first like just an improv on a riff, but closer listening reveals a lot of subtleties deeper in the mix (including the riff from “Red Money”/”Sister Midnight”…).
(Incidentally, Bowie’s notes on this soundtrack project are quite fascinating. Why were they not included in the US release? Stop me before I rant about idiot record companies again!)