Music

75 years of David Bowie

David Bowie left us five years ago and would be 75 years old next January. To celebrate his life, the David Bowie estate is launching today, 75 days before his birthday several curated pop-up events in London and New York.

The London location where Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s alien personas, was last sighted before David Bowie decided to kill him, and the neighbourhood where Bowie lived his last years in New York, the city where he recorded his last haunted jazz record will be the stage of pop-up experiential shops involving music, fashion and art. In these two events and many others to be hosted, you will be able to find rare apparel collectables, watch several archived and behind-the-scenes videos, photos and hear his music in an immerse experience in 360 reality audio exclusively in 75 locations. October 25 events in London and New York mark the start of Bowie’s celebrations to be hosted here and there and everywhere.
If you missed the exhibition “Bowie Is” that travelled the world these events can bring you closer to that glorious experience where sound and image combined offering the full experience of the life and of work of the man who combined all kinds of arts and whose influence is felt in many fields. For further information, visit www.bowie75.com and chances are that one of these events will be hosted around the corner from you.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

In praise of Robert Fripp

 

A dispute over royalties is opposing the David Bowie Estate and Robert Fripp one of the best, most influential and respected guitar players in modern music.

The first time I saw Robert Fripp live was in 1982 in Faro, the Algarve, where he played with his band King Crimson supporting Roxy Music, and this brings to mind a funny anecdote. “Uau, look at him jumping on stage, the great Robert Fripp!”. But the dancing man on stage was not Fripp but rather Adrian Bellew who, together with Tony Levin, ensured most of the moves and with Bill Brufford during the hypnotising “Waiting Man” where Adian and Bill engaged on a true duel in front of the vibraphone, one of the highlights of the show. As for Fripp he spent most of concert sitting on a bar stool discretely playing his guitar. “No, man Robert Fripp is the guy on a tuxedo sitting down!”. This episode tells a lot about both the importance but also about the discretion of one of the best and most respected guitar players in the world, the man who left his mark in a myriad of records from David Sylvian to David Bowie through to King Crimson, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, The Grid, Peter Gabriel… Tracks like “I Zimbra” from Talking Heads, “Heroes” by David Bowie, the whole “Gone to Earth” album by David Sylvian or “456” by The Grid would never be the same with the particular sound of Fripps’s guitar. The list of tracks where his guitar played a decisive role in shaping the sound and delivering a particular atmosphere is enormous and we could add a couple more like “No self-control”, “I Don’t Remember” and “Not One of Us” by Peter Gabriel, “Baby’s on fire” by Brian Eno or David Bowie’s “Fashion”, “It’s No Game”, “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”, “Kingdom Come”, “Up the Hill Backwards” and “Teenage Wildlife”.

And it’s precisely the songs he recorded for Bowie’s albums “Heroes” and “Scary Monsters” that are now bringing Robert Fripp to the front pages of the music and general press following his claim to be taken as a featured artist and not just as mere session guitar player, a dispute that is opposing him to David Bowie’s estate and PPL ((Phonographic Performance Limited) for  not recognising his status as feature performer and so therefore has been refusing to pay him the relevant royalties, claiming that when the tracks were recorded there was no such thing as featured player. But his work as featured player has been acknowledged by both Brian Eno and Tony Visconti who were deeply involved in the production of Bowie’s albums particularly Brian Eno during the so-called Berlin phase. Without Eno and Fripp’s mastery in creating soundscapes the song “Heroes” wouldn’t have been what it is and the same goes to most of the tracks on Scary Monsters where Fripp’s guitar was essential for the final outcome. The dispute involving Fripp and the Bowie estate and PPL is thus not just about money, it’s about acknowledging the important role of Robert Fripp as one of the most influential guitar players in modern music. When listening to his guitar on “Heroes” we realise he didn’t just lend the ink, he actually painted half the painting.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

The David Bowie App

On the day of his birthday David Bowie’s legacy reaches smartphones worldwide via a new app, an official augmented reality adaptation of the legendary exhibition David Bowie Is.

David Bowie is more alive than ever through the thousands of tributes to the man who would be 72 today and died at the beginning of 2016 thus making the second week of January inevitably the Bowie Week. Two years ago, he gave us a strange present on the day of his birthday, a true rise and fall of David Bowie in one go as he would leave us two days after the release of his gospel named “Blackstar”. Books, magazines, radio and TV shows all focused on the life of the most important pop icon of all times along with an exhibition which started at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London while he was still alive and took to cities like São Paulo, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris or New York. With the help of headphones that would play songs corresponding to different periods as you approached the relevant section of the exhibition, visitors had the opportunity to dive deep in Bowie’s universe, admiring some of the costumes he wore on stage, lyrics, notes and assorted pictures. Trendenz saw this very same exhibition in Berlin, where a further section was added focusing on the Bowie’s Berlin years and where he recorded some of his most important albums, and words can hardly describe the mix of sensations and emotions as we went through the different rooms.

Brooklyn was the last leg of this exhibition and for those who missed the opportunity The David Bowie Archive, Sony Entertainment (Japan) and Planeta released an App availabe as of today on IOS and Android platforms. This app features over 400 high resolution captures of David Bowie’s costumes, sketches, handwritten lyrics, notes, and more in striking immersive settings introduced and narrated by David Bowie’s close friend Gary Oldman. Nothing compares the sensation of being in a room surrounded by everything Bowie, but considering that this exhibition seems to have stopped in Brooklyn, and while no decision is made to extend it to other places and museums, you may now explore the full exhibit in the intimacy of your own environment in a stunning augmented reality app and take Bowie everywhere on our smartphone.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

ABBA return with new songs

One of the most successful pop bands ever has just announced two new songs to be included in the ambitious avatar tour being prepared by the fabulous four swedes.

“I still have faith in you” is the title of one of the new songs currently being recorded by ABBA one of the world’s biggest pop phenomena who ruled the world for nearly three decades and whose records can be found in nearly every household on the planet. “The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence”, the band said in an official report, adding that “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!” The new songs will be aired in December on a TV show where the fabulous four swedes will appear under the form of avatars. The avatar tour marks the return, albeit virtual, of the band that in this last 35 years was seen together on stage only once in 2016.

After 8 successful albums, 3 compilations and a number of singles the band split but has always been there nearly everywhere. Australia, where the band performed in a number of cities in the 80’s and filmed “ABBA, The Movie”, is particularly fond of the band and the band’s imagery and songs is there in two fabulous movies – “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Priscila Queen of the Desert”. ABBA songs took to the stage and to the movies too through “Mamma Mia” the musical and the movie, the latter featuring Meryl Streep in the leading role.

With this reunion ABBA are set to hit the limelight again. And for those wishing to get to know the bands legacy or travel in time the band opened 5 years ago ABBA The Museum in Sweden where you are given the possibility to see all the glittery looks, gold records and assorted memorabilia.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Let’s Dance

David Bowie’s best-selling record until the day he died was launched 35 years ago today. The move to sing for the many not the few did help his career but would cost him his hardcore fan base who would return to him only on occasion after that when the launched three of his more obscure masterpieces like “Outside”, “Heathen” and the haunting “Blackstar”.

By the time you read this it will be already April 14 in Australia, the continent he took to in order to film the video clip for the song “Let’s Dance”. It was 1983 and there were more folk dancing to David Bowie than ever before. “Let’s Dance” was the main single from the eponymous album and suddenly a considerable part of the world discovered the icon gone global after fourteen albums where he appealed mostly to a crowd that felt motivated to live up to their different music tastes, clothing, sexuality and whatever Bowie stood and stands for ever since he appeared with his new approach to music and fashion. Assisted by funkmaster Nile Rogers, better known as founding member of Chic and producer of major hits from bands like Sister Sledge the record made its way to dance floors. But despite the clear funk influence Bowie did not give up his rock influences having invited Steve Ray Vaughan to add his guitar riffs thereby launching an album with the right funky feel that suited the early 80’s but with a pint of rock here and there. The image, another distinguishing feature of David Bowie seemed to follow the popular spirit of the new Bowie. Wearing immaculate suites in pastel colours and his hair dyed blond Bowie looked rather like an northern-European holidaymaker than the alien he had impersonated in some records.

35 years after being released “Let’s Dance” is still a difficult album to digest for the hardcore Bowie fan and marked a period of some creative decline in the man’s career. The Bowie for the many not the few was not the Bowie the few waited for and he would regain his particular fanbase only after “Outside” which followed the popular “Tonight” and the not so popular “Never let me down” and “Black Tie White Noise”. After that he failed again when trying to have a go with drum’n and bass with “Earthling”, when he launched “Hours” a mild album and “Relity” equally mild, the album that preced “Heathen”, the record that hinted somehow to the path he would follow when he launched “The Next Day” and his final epos “Blackstar”, the record that proved that despite some failed attempts he was still the man he stands for for many – avant-garde, unpredictable and master of reinvention.

Carlos Tomé Sousa