Teenage Wildlife

The Buddha Of Suburbia - Liner Notes

The following notes appear in only the European version of The Buddha Of Suburbia album, but are often the source of questions on various forums. They are reprinted here courtesy of a posting by teliga who posted them to the USENET newsgroup alt.fan.davidbowie.

This collection of music bears little resemblance to the small instrumentation of the BBC play of Buddha. That project was manoeuvered & focused primarily by Roger Mitchell the Director, who guided me around the usual pitfalls of over arranging against small ensemble theatre.

However, left to my own devices these same pieces just took on a life of their own in the studio, the narrative & 70's memories providing a textural backdrop in my imagination that manifested as a truly exciting work situation. In short, I took the TV play motifs and reconstructed them completely except, that is, for the theme song.

Overall the pace of work was frenetic, taking only 6 days to write 7 record `through a full fifteen days to mix, owing in part to some technical breakdowns-nothing serious but enough to put our team out by five or six days.

I`ll tell a little of the working methods: I took each theme or motif from the play and initially stretched or lengthened it to a five or six minute duration. By means of time-code I experimented with various rhythmic elements, drums, percussion, temple blocks et al until I found a sense of companionship to the primary motif. Then, having noted which musical key I was in and having the number of bars, I would often pull down the faders leaving just the percussive element with no harmonic informations to refer to. Working in layers, I would then build up reinforcements in the key of the composition totally blind so to speak. When all faders were pushed up again a number of clashes would make themselves evident. The more dangerous or attractive ones would then be isolated and repeated at varying intervals so giving the impression of forethought.

On two pieces, The Mysteries and Ian Fish, the original tape was slowed down, opening up the thick texture dramatically and then Erdal would play the thematic information against it.

On my favourite piece, South Horizon, all elements, from the lead instrumentation to texture, were played both fowards and backwards. The resulting extracts were then intercut arbitrarily giving Mike Garson a splendid eccentric backdrop upon which to improvise. I personally think Mike gives one of his best-ever performances on this piece and it thrills on every listening, confirming to me at least, that he is still one of the most extraordinary pianists playing today.

My personal brief for this collection was to marry my present way of writing and playing with the stockpile of residue from the 1970`s Here is my partial list:
Free associaton lyricsKraftwerk
Pink Floyd Bromley
Harry Partch Croydon
Costume Eno
Blues clubs Prostitutes & Soho
Unter de Linden Ronnie Scott`s club
Brucke museum Travels thru Russia
Pet Sounds Loneliness
Friends of the Krays O`Jays
Roxy Music Philip Glass in New York clubs
T.Rex Die Mauer
The Casserole Drugs

The list is actually endless but the above innitially springs to mind. Fifty percent of the lyrical content is used merely semiotically, the rest either with implied abstruse connotation or just because I like the sound of the word.

There has always been a hazy rootlessness to my writing. I put it down to an overwhelming sense of transience, or is it a case of imagination being rearranged? This leads me often to re-complicate much of my composition writing, something I'm working earnestly away from. I should make it clear that many of my working forms are taken in whole or in part from my collaborations with Brian Eno, who in my humble opinion occupies the position in late 20th century popular music that Clement Greenberg had to art in the 40`s or Richard Hamilton in the 60`s.

In general, Brian's perceptions on form or purpose within culture leave most critics tap-dancing on the edge of the abyss spouting virtually nothing but fashionable blathering.

With a little coercion they will happily swan-dive into the vortex of their own making..

However, Brian he singe lik a litul gerl ha ha all mixed down and dubul-track so I'm one up on him there.

A major chief obstacle to the evolution of music has been the almost redundant narrative form. To rely upon this old war-horse can only continue the spiral into British constraint of insularity. Maybe we could finally relegate the straightfoward narrative to the past.

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This document last updated Thursday, 18-Mar-1999 23:27:40 EST
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