Music Reviews

Laurie Anderson

Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology

Warner Archives/Rhino

“I really do think that it’;s so so so hard to be an artist right now. For a huge variety of reasons. Not just the lack of funding, but also that so much of this country is about entertainment. And it’;s got quite confusing what art is, what commerce is, and what entertainment is. And what information is. They’;re all sort of in the same multimedia package.” The Art of Laurie in a nutshell.

Laurie Anderson manages them all eloquently, with extreme and varying blends. Two CDs, 35 tracks, from seven albums (one a five record set), although the range of experimentation makes it seem like it would have been a lot more albums. Storytelling mixed with electronics and samples, violins mixed with tape heads, phonograph needles, and tape-looped bows. Guitar creatures mixed with bass animals, and percussion storms sweeping through rhythmic pulsing forests.

The creative experience swirls from the early days of downtown art-minimalism through a lush glory of horn-sectioned and backup-singered layering and back to a more poignant and even simpler storytelling. The company kept throughout: Roma Baran, David Van Tieghem, Adrian Belew, Peter Gabriel, Bill Laswell, Nile Rodgers, Daniel Ponce, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, William S. Burrroughs, Steve Gadd, and Bobby McFerrin, to name a healthy handful.

Now, what kind of music would you expect from someone who taught art history in New York Colleges (while making up details she’;d forgotten), picked cotton in Kentucky, nearly died high up in the mountains of Tibet, enjoyed playing Andy Kaufman’;s straight man, and recently hosted the First Imagination Conference? Then multiply that by something, ten times.

If you’;re new to or unfamiliar with the Laurie Experience, this is your open book, your bonus trial version. If Laurie is nothing new to you, this is still a tightly commemorative package with a tasty booklet describing her journey and song inspirations. Either way, her stories color her a bit bizarre and remind you of something that probably happened to you in a dream or real life.

http://www.rhino.com


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