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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laurie Anderson may have changed, but the world has too, and she's seen it all...,
If you are a fan of the avant-garde, the independent spirit, personal achievement in a singular artistic genre, then Laurie Anderson - and this new album - is for you. She has spent over 40 years of her life in the pursuit of creation from the heart, not overproduced garbage from (and for) the target audience - popular mainstream sad lyric-spewing bobbleheads who know absolutely nothing about true musical expression.
Laurie is a true musical artist of the highest caliber, drawing from the stream of consciousness events from the last 30 years, going as far back and slightly referencing her opus "United States I-IV", and making it very sure to the listener that this is a new world we are living in, and television and fame and emotions have become compartmentalized and filed somewhere in a dark corner of a computer.
Fame is a horrible disease, being rich is great and a curse, and personal freedoms and our choices are duct-taped to the wall with pieces of the Constitution.
She sees it all, and her music tells the horrible stories of truth, using her male alter-ego Fenway Bergamot and throat-singing and what seems at times primal scream therapy. And what's wrong with that?
She has been touring with this show since 2008 and has finally stepped into the studio to recreate her one woman show. This album is 12 wonderful songs, adding up to over an hour:
01 Transitory Life - the opening track explains it all in one sentence: "It's a good time for bankers, and winners, and sailors, with their stories of jackpots and islands of pleasure... they're sailing through this transitory life." Only Laurie can see the best and the worst of what you think is a good thing to be.
02 My Right Eye - I have never felt more connected to Laurie's music than when I first heard this. She tells you to relax and feel the world rush through your fingers and your skin. It does work...
03 Thinking Of You - Is this her love letter to the city of New York in the winter of 2001? As she sees it, the whiteness from the snow covers the ashes, hides the burnt ground, and she floats above the gaping wound in the earth and she tells us about mother's thoughts, and lovers thoughts, and lost introspections as the drums pound and she reminds us "I was thinking of you... and I wasn't thinking of you anymore..." Powerful.
04 Strange Perfumes - this Indian-tinged lament is a dedication to beauty, and the pursuit of it. She speaks of war, and of love, and how if you lose at either one, there is nothing left but blue skies, as the battles are done.
05 Only An Expert - "Only and expert can deal with the problem..." And America always sticks it's collective noses into the hornet's nests and almost NEEDS to be the Great Problem Solver, and only the USA, the big (and once rich) brother of the world, can solve it all, but if you aren't an expert helping in solving the solutions, forget it. You have no usefulness. And her Oprah reference about solving 'problems'? Priceless! We live from paycheck to paycheck, we dig deeper in debt to buy the good steaks and patio furniture, but for what? This song is a club rocker, but you'll never hear it there. It's too out there and too deep for club kids to understand.
06 Falling - sometimes having our pace, our tics, and our open arms to the skies aren't a bad thing... but Laurie does have some thoughts about that, though. Roger Waters couldn't have said it better about how "the American way" has become America's downfall.
07 Another Day In America - this is the song that will compel you to understand Laurie's entire catalog of music. This is her definitive statement of the world in 2010, and I don't think she could have said it any better. The world is imploding, old people are simply breathing and have no purpose, America has become a cultural wasteland and a technological wonder, and the Doomsday clock is approaching midnight and no one cares because they're too busy trying to buy more things. She tells you about the old timey days, the better times, the nostalgia, and then she hits you in the face with an iPad and a nuclear swordfight.
08 Bodies In Motion - who ever thought quantum mechanics could be sexy? We move, we think, we create, we destroy. We sometimes regret what we've done, but most of the time we don't. We went from being scared of the sky to fearing anything falling from the sky to kill us all. And we created it all, just simple motions... I feel very Madonna-ish here. I mean the good Madonna, the `telling us what life is all about' Madonna. That thread of thought seems to work here.
09 Dark Time In The Revolution - "Was the Constitution written in invisible ink?" We fight, America's been fighting for over 200 years, every 20 years or so, and what have it proven? For fat balding men in impeccably-dressed suits in Washington DC, war sells, war is good business, war makes good press for presidents and oil companies, and war has gone from solving problems to creating thick 401k plans for potential bailout CEOs. Oh yeah, young men and now women die, and they really don't know why. Is it for America, or for the bottom line?
10 The Lake - Laurie has dreams. This is one of them. That's it.
11 The Beginning Of Memory - Pink Floyd meets the Greek tragedy. This is a spoken piece with some muted music about how so so much simpler living one's life was, and if you can't see the subtlety of what she's saying, what she's implying, than this album - and most of Anderson's catalog of music in general - might not be for you.
12 Flow - a 2 minute and 14 dirge, a funereal echo pronouncing the end of the album, and her thought process, and all of the things she's tried you to get to understand for over the last hour as you slowly pull back from the endless thought processes she's lobbed at you like mind grenades.
So that's it. This album, almost four years from creation to today's release, is why Laurie exists, for her kind of artistry is necessary to remind us that when it does all collapse, she will smile, knowing she was right, because she is the perfect kind of musical artist - thought-provoking, understanding, topical, timeless.
Is it full of negativity and pessimism at times? Yes.
Is she still right, sharing her fears and dreams and getting us to think in the only way she knows how to universally approach the world like this? Definitely.
The CD album also comes with a DVD about how she's come to be with her violin (her words) and a short project based on some of her music here.
Now go! Buy this album, or go to her website and download it now - then sit back late one night, or early one morning, relax as you put on your headphones, and drink it all in. You'll be the better person to have let Laurie into your mind for a while to sing and speak to you about what she sees and feels in this broken world.
(Thanks for reading and please check out my other scatterbrained reviews of music from all over the world...!)
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An artistic masterpiece - Lost Art of Conversation,
I'll start off by saying I'm not particularly familiar with Laurie Anderson's previous music. However, I had a prelisten to Homeland on the NPR website and immediately fell in love with it. This album is certainly accessible to all kinds of music aficionados (pop, alternative, etc). Each song is so beautifully crafted and the songs collectively create an extraordinary mood, that you feel completely surrounded and engulfed by the swirling beauty and art of this amazing work.
I understand that on her previous work it was mostly spoken word put to music, however she actually sings on this album and it is nothing short of breathtaking. I believe that's what makes it so accessible to a broader audience (including me). This album will take you on a beautiful ethereal flight that you won't want to return from.
The only downside is that the brilliant and best track "Lost Art of Conversation" is not included on the cd. You can download it from the special edition of this album on itunes. A definite must in my opinion.
Buy and start your ethereal journey :)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raises that eye brow..,
Two days ago I received this CD by mail. It is enclosed in a handsome hardcover booklet, which I find very nice. It didn't break and or take a sharp tool too open. This book(let) is well thought out, hands-on and well made, in an age of faceless mp3 downloads.
I have listened to the CD ca 20-30 times since it disappeared into my laptop. And I have learned something. What, is hard to put my finger on. But as with many stories and creative expressions there is a lot to digest and maybe best not to try to analyze to much and just enjoy the music. This album has a natural thread weaving into Anderson's previous works. Inspiring, really well thought out and beautifully played, while spoken and sung lyrics are at the level of poetry, social critique and personal awareness. Certain unique sounds, well put together, great musicians, a definite passion, an awareness of being, almost casual but with amazing integrity.
And then, this deep voice on there raises my eyebrow as it reminds me of someone who called me in the middle of the night many years ago, while I was half asleep. The authoritative announcer on many science or nature shows turned more free-flow and poetic. Just wonderful, and to realize its the person with the eyebrow, the alter-ego.
And in all this dreamlike fogginess there is clarity intertwined in some strange and beautiful way, implanted into the back of our heads.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only an expert can review Laurie Anderson.,
In preparing to listen to "Homeland", Laurie Anderson's first album in nine years, I went back to the beginning and listened to all of her albums in sequential order. The one thing that struck me is that each of her albums is its own entity. I know there is a compilation of her work, but I don't see how you can pull tracks from any of her albums to make a good compilation. Each of her albums stands on its own merits as a whole listening experience.
"Homeland" is its own listening experience. The first time through I immediately liked "Only An Expert" with its humorous philosophical observations about problems and who defines what a problem is, and who decides how a problem is handled and how consensus is gained as to whether there is or is not a problem. I also liked "Only In America" with its observations on how time is viewed, and I particularly enjoyed the line about how the couple, who could never really stand the sight of each other, decided, in their 90's to divorce, because they wanted to wait until their children died. Hilarious. First time I've laughed out loud at a Laurie Anderson song.
"Homeland" is filled with philosophical brain-teasers and minimalist sounds to support them. To say that "Homeland" is anything less than bold and cohesive in its approach would be tantamount to idiocy. Through further listening, I began to enjoy "The Beginning Of Memory", "Dark Time In The Revolution", "Transitory Life" and "Thinking Of You". After more listening I became convinced I liked all the odd numbered songs. The even numbered songs are solid, don't get me wrong, but they somehow are not as memorable as the odd numbered tracks.
"My Right Eye", "Strange Perfumes", "Falling", "Bodies In Motion", "The Lake" and "Flow" did not strike me as hard as the other six tracks, but when interwoven, the whole album is a meditative listen. And I have to say that at 63, Laurie Anderson is doing what I have hoped many of my favorite artists her age would do, and that is experiment. Too many of my old favorites just keep make boring choices, but not Laurie. "Homeland" is refreshing, and that's not something I'd expect after nine years off. It's also not what I'd expect from a 63 year old, but then, that's Laurie, right? Always full of surprises.
The frustrating part of being a Laurie Anderson fan is: There are no Laurie Anderson fans. I have never met one person who has said, "You like Laurie?! I listen to all of her music, she's fantastic!" Nope. Not one. In fact, I get dead silence and a blank look. Fine. Laurie is my little secret then. My wife can't stand her music. She has said, "Who listens to this stuff? She must not sell many albums." Then I have to point out that most of her albums have cracked the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. Again, an incredulous look.
It's not easy being a Laurie Anderson devotee. I see I am only the 10th critic to acknowledge this fine work, "Homeland", after nearly two months with it on the market. All I can say is, if you ARE a fan, you should get this. If you are looking for something DIFFERENT, then I recommend this. I can't say that "Homeland" is my favorite Laurie Anderson work, but it's definitely good.
Here's how "Homeland" compares to Laurie Anderson's previous albums:
1982 Big Science: Four Stars
1983 United States Live: Four Stars
1984 Mister Heartbreak: Five Stars
1986 Home Of The Brave: Three Stars
1989 Strange Angels: Five Stars
1994 Bright Red: Four Stars
1995 The Ugly One With The Jewels: Four Stars
2001 Life On A String: Three and a Half Stars
2002 Live In New York: Four Stars
2010 Homeland: Four Stars
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Have No Mouth, And I Must Sing,
All it took to convince me that Laurie Anderson's HOMELAND is, in fact, the album of 2010--was listening to it once.
The intensity and meaningfulness of the instrumental music alone is enough to demand respect from any attentive listener. Throw in Laurie's incisive lyrics and provocative vocals--[her husband Lou Reed has named her male-vocalized alter-ego "Fenway Bergamot" (depicted on the cover in transgender CGI-drag, looking like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx)]--and you have the most original and thoughtful musical statement of the year, hands down.
No one outdoes Laurie. She distills more menace into a bassline than any one of a dozen overrated 'kvlt' artists could ever manage in a decade of fiddling with their protools. She imbues a more lucid sense of atmosphere into her music than the most acclaimed of ambient artists. HOMELAND is the album that Brian Eno and all the members of King Crimson are sitting themselves down to give a thorough listen to (and by thorough, I do mean losing themselves entirely to the music).
I can't even begin to break down this superlative soundscape into its individual tracks, quite yet. I'm still absorbing the album as a whole. To say this is the "album of the year" is to easily dismiss it into a compost heap of forgettable recordings that are churned out annually. HOMELAND is an apotheosis of musicianship that only a lifetime of genius could possibly have incubated and then delivered unto the world. It is easily in the running for the "Album of the Decade": HOMELAND is something that comes around once in a lifetime - nothing less.
What a beautiful shock and soothing surprise this album is. I could never "forget" about Laurie Anderson entirely, but I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know what she's been up to, lately. After hearing this album, it pleases me immensely that what she's been up to for the last few years, is touring and developing the nexus of live musical tracks that would form the bones, sinews, and muscle tissue of this most accomplished album of her entire career.
My wife and I caught her performance a few weeks ago on David Letterman, of the song "Only An Expert", and that was one doozy of a live spot for that late night talkshow, lemme tell ya. She was on fire, her commanding presence on stage was electric, and we were riveted to the TV screen while she performed it. With its infectious chorus and assassin-sharp lyrics, "Only An Expert" vaults easily onto radio as a surprisingly accessible hit for her, and it only begins to scratch the surface of this collosal iceberg of an album.
Whether you ever listened to Laurie Anderson in your life or not--get this album and give it a try. It will envelop you in Laurie's alternately terrifying and soothing postmodern world, and provide the trapped human beast inside you with an outlet it would otherwise not have. Reminescent of the title of Harlan Ellison's story "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream", Laurie's latest album is the escape pod by which the modern music mage can make his temporary getaway from the ongoing pressures of this splintering American life.
Thank you, Laurie Anderson, for this gift to the human race.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laurie Anderson's most accessible album (for those who aren't already fans),
I'll start off by noting that I am a fan of Laurie Anderson and will take a chance on almost anything she produces. This one, however, is important for so many reasons and could well be her most accessible album. At least, I know three other people who listened to this and love it even though their musical tastes are vastly different.
Anderson's music evolves to take in what is happening in the world today. She "finished" this one due to time constraints and I wonder what she would have done if she had more time. She follows her heart and what she creates is not just music but art. It is often stream of consciousness and others like Lou Reed sometimes participate in her creations.
Now to the CD (bet you thought I'd never get to that, right?) She covers all the flaws and beauties of what has been happening in the world today but this is not a grim work. In order to get the full benefit, listen to some samples or even download a song before purchasing it. The multi-layered mixture of Anderson's voice and the music really does complete the experience.
Subject matter covers everything from New York to my personal favorite, Another Day in America. It is long (11 minutes and 24 seconds) but is a breathtaking look at the state of the world. It deserves time to sit back and let it roll over you. I wouldn't recommend listening to this particular track in your car, especially if you are moved to tears. It is well worth those 11 minutes plus to savor it and think about where are - right now - in America. I am interested in listening to it again a year from now and a year from that year to see how her vision hold up and how things change - or stagnate - from there.
Take a chance on this one. I'm betting it will at the top of your favorites list for the year.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant album with a lot of heart behind it.,
I am a long-time fan of Laurie Anderson's... that might actually be an understatement. Her United States Live having long been my "desert island" allbum. I am fortunate that she visits my remote tropical island with some frequency, and so I have had the opportunity to see her perform many times, watch the evolution of this brilliant artist. Now USA live had been my choice, in large part, because it offers up so much material ; I have too many favorites to list, but this piece (homeland) is brilliant. I think Lou Reed said it best (in the included DVD) "She's a synthesizer". I found this piece particularly breathtaking. While it is not as different as many of her earlier works, it is reflective and heart-felt, the culmination of a long journey and much soul searching. In it, I believe, she captures the longing and discontent of a nation. The individual pieces are artistically put together, a collaborative work 10 years in the making. I am hoping that the enormity of having put this together was nto such a strain that it is another 10 years to her next album.
I know this review has not described the music (though I find that a very difficult feat). For fans of Laurie's, this one os more quiet, reflective, but clearly an evolution of her earlier work. A profound and deeply moving piece of art.
for those who do not know her earlier work, I suggest that you listen to some samples. that is the best way to get acquainted. It is nice that the option exists now as it is a much better one than relying on anyone's descriptions.
I came back after watching the dvd, listening to the cd, and was so moved by it I am thinking of buying copies for several friends. i would really have to reach to think of a work which I have found so moving. I am glad to see that she is finally getting the recognition which she deserves, and that organizations like NPR are introducing her to a wider audience. if you have gotten this far, I suspect that you either already know her work... or have recently caught a glimpse of it. Delve furthur. it is worth the exploration.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars threw me back 25 years,
speechless, the previous reviews nail it. no reason to add more. more stars yes. I also stumbled upon this and it threw me back to Big Science and Mister Heartbreak in some of the songs. I love all the subtle sound clips that go along the main theme, sometimes haunting, gloomy, yearning. Homesick for homeland.....The beginning of memory (my favorite on this album).
Thank you Laurie
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laurie's Homeland is a true look at the world today...,
The greatest art, whether it be painting, music, movies or any other medium usually does one of two things: it holds up a mirror to society and says "Look at yourself...study your flaws and think think think about what you can do to improve," or it holds up an ideal image and says, "Look at the beauty that is already yourself, but don't forget to think think think." Laurie Anderson time and time again accomplishes both and Homeland is no exeption. Her first studio album in over 10 years (what took you so long, Strange Angel?) blows me away every time I hear it. Its sweeping beautiful violin and thought-provoking lyrics mesh wonderfully. This woman is truly a genius. In the 10 years since her last studio album, she's done some extensive touring (I've seen her here in Atlanta 3 times since her last album) and live she's always amazing and a lot of this album was created on her tours and tweaked in the studio. Lou Reed (her husband) was with her on the last tour (an added treat) and he's here on the album as well. My personal highlight of the tour and the album is the track "Only An Expert." The mirror has never been clearer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait,
Laurie's fans have been waiting for a new studio album for a long time and have been rewarded with this gorgeous, mature, intelligent work. (The bonus DVD, essentially a set of making-of interviews with Laurie, Lou Reed and others is entirely worthwhile on its own, by the way.)
The music over which Laurie sings and speaks is probably the best-sounding stuff on any of her studio albums. Good enough that I'd love to own a "instrumental" version of this CD.
To my personal taste, Laurie's spoken-word recordings are more consistently successful than when she sings. This recording has Laurie moving between speaking and singing in a balance that's particularly moving.
The heart of this CD, as others have pointed out, is "Another Day in America," on which Laurie speaks through the male "voice of authority," filter which will be familiar to fans. She brings it back here and there is something especially heartbreaking about hearing this character of Laurie's intone this very sad, resigned reflection on the loss of one's country. This character had always been a bit--I don't know--sleezy, but here he's sad, wiser, older. Each time I've re-listened to this CD, I find myself waiting for that track, and then recovering from it as I listen to the rest of the CD.
Anyway: Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Highly recommended. And as Lou Reed says on the DVD, "The smarter you are, the more you'll get out of it."
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