Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

Big Science

Nonesuch Records

I remember when performance art was actually cool. It was a combination of monologue, dance, special effects, and weirdness, all designed to shock the complacent middle class out of their Reagan era rut. And like Dada, it had little effect on its intended audience, but all the hipsters ate it up. If there was ever a poster child for performance art, it was Ms. Anderson and her sampled, looped little “uh uh uh” making the rhythm track backing spoken word pieces that struck a perfect balance between the mundane and the absurd. To this day I can’t sit on an airplane without following “This is your captain speaking…” with “…We’re all going down…”

Poetry is words making images, and the images on Big Science are the world as seen from inside your answering machine, in the ruins of suburban sprawl yet to be built, and in the middle of a foreign language tape. This record is endlessly entertaining, and I admit “Oh Superman” was my answering machine message for quite a while. If there’s a flaw in this disc, it’s the digital content, which is the audio and video for “Walking the Dog”. The song is fine, the video so-so, but this makes another CD that won’t play on a computer. In fact, I’m actually listening to an old analog rip of this disc while I complete this write-up. If you can deal with an enhanced CD, or know the old black magic marker trick, this record is a blast. A calm, smooth, low impact blast, but a blast none the less.

Nonesuch: nonesuch.com

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