tue 29/11/2022

CD: Dylan Howe - Subterranean | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Dylan Howe - Subterranean

CD: Dylan Howe - Subterranean

Hard-bop drummer introduces David Bowie to John Coltrane in Berlin

New designs on Bowie's Berlin - jazz style

Taking the electronics-heavy instrumental pieces from David Bowie’s, late seventies albums, Low and “Heroes” and arranging them in a hard-bop jazz style might seem a bit audacious. After all, electronic experimentation was largely the point of this music – primarily as an attempt to escape from the usual expectations of pre-punk seventies’ rock music.

Nevertheless, these tunes soon proved to be significant game-changers in modern music themselves, conveying a feeling of alienation through proto-ambient soundscapes which were a huge influence on Aphex Twin, Black Dog and many others of the early nineties’ chill-out scene.

Subterranean is subtitled “New designs on Bowie’s Berlin” and it certainly offers up those. The album consists of covers of all of the instrumental pieces from Low, as well as tunes from those sessions that only saw the light of day several years’ after the album’s initial release, and a couple from Heroes. It begins in a relaxed manner with versions of “Subterraneans” and “Weeping Well” that are notable for Brandon Allen’s laid-back saxophone soloing, Ross Stanley’s precise piano playing and nice bit of restrained hard-bop drumming from bandleader, Howe. Things soon liven up, however, after Mark Hodgson’s double bass-led introduction to “All Saints” and the band pushes firmly into John Coltrane territory, where they largely remain.

The highlights of Subterranean are the treatments given two of the more memorable tunes from Low, “Art Decade” and “Warszawa”. “Art Decade” has an arrangement that mimics the original most closely and gives off a relaxed, ambient vibe that feels very cinematic in its scope. “Warszawa” begins with an eerie guitar line, courtesy of Portishead’s Adrian Utley, and is soon complemented by Ross Stanley’s solid piano playing and further lovely soloing by Brandon Allen.

Dylan Howe has described Subterranean as “the John Coltrane Quartet playing in a spaceship”. It’s more Space Oddity than Starman, though.

The band pushes firmly into John Coltrane territory, where they largely remain


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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