This Album Changed My Life: David Bowie – Low (1977)

Belfast artist Arvo Party on the album that led to his love of electronic music

Arvo Party: I didn’t understand David Bowie – "Low" when I first heard it

Arvo Party: I didn’t understand David Bowie – "Low" when I first heard it

 

When I was 16 I was asked to write down the names of two CDs that I would like for Christmas. On the back of an envelope I scribbled “Def Leppard – Vault” and “David BowieLow”. This was a pivotal moment for me. Having spent my youth listening to Metallica and Megadeth, here I was accepting that the rock of my youth could be boiled down to a best of, while also leaping boldly into what was unknown, to me. That was my favourite time. Discovering it all for the first time.

I didn’t understand Low when I first heard it. Why would anyone make a snare sound that way? Or sing in a made-up language? But over time I learned more about Bowie, Eno and Visconti, their techniques and how experimental and groundbreaking the album was. It didn’t occur to me that the second half was “ambient”, I just liked it.

David Bowie - Subterraneans

David Bowie - Warszawa

In hindsight, I learned to love electronic music via Low. The run of the final four tracks – Warszawa, Art Decade, Weeping Wall and Subterraneans blows my mind, still – off the cuff noodles by a seemingly depressed man in a Berlin studio. It’s the archetypal image of the pained but vital artist, a skinny Bowie fiddling with new machines in search of something, anything, to make himself feel, well, something, anything. I can relate to that. More than I care to admit. And, as a result, this album changed my life.

Listen to Arvo Party on arvoparty.bandcamp.com 

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.