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Big Science

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Amazon's Laurie Anderson Store


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Calling Laurie Anderson “the most important multimedia artist of our time,” The Los Angeles Times recently noted the “rare, profound maturity” of her latest songs. Thirty years into her recording career—in which she has simultaneously remained busy as a visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker and internationally touring live performer—she has ... Read more in Amazon's Laurie Anderson Store

Visit Amazon's Laurie Anderson Store
for 17 albums, 3 photos, discussions, and more.

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Big Science + Mister Heartbreak + Bright Red
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B000002KNM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,789 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. From The Air
2. Big Science
3. Sweaters
4. Walking & Falling
5. Born, Never Asked
6. O Superman (For Massenet)
7. Example #22
8. Let X=X
9. It Tango

Product Description

Product Description



Big Science prompted trendy early-1980s art students to plug in their synthesizers and start their own post-punk performance-art-cum-rock-&-roll projects. The album actually produced a hit single in the form of "O Superman." That track and "Let X=X" are the two best-known things from this album, which is a condensation of United States, Anderson's four-and-a-half-hour performance-art piece. Big Science, however, presents the cream of the crop. Although a lot of Anderson's shrill non sequiturs seemed annoying at the time of her breakthrough, she predicted techno music years before it happened. Still, as rock critic J.D. Considine pointed out, her creations are often closer to theatre than to music. --Bill Holdship

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 July 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Big Science" is an intense experience. It is also one of the greatest records I've ever heard. Laurie Anderson's ability to touch emotions with pure sound and rhythm is a tribute to her discipline and technical mastery. The sparse clarity of her word-and-sound-scapes leads you curiously on to places you never knew existed! Well, that's what I reckon anyway. Alf agrees with me. Don't cheat yourself - listen to it all in one sitting with the phone off the hook and a do not disturb notice on your door. You may find it bewildering and irritating. It's not pop. You can dance to it. I do! 5 stars and counting.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By not_a_real_folkie VINE VOICE on 3 Jun. 2005
Format: Audio CD
UK listeners of a certain age will, of course, either love or loathe Laurie Anderson on the strength of her unlikely 1981(?) hit, O Superman. That mammoth track forms the literal centrepiece of this extraordinary record, but is also quite unrepresentative. Laurie Anderson is no one-trick pony.
Every track on this album has its own soundscape and character. Sonically highly experimental (we jump from howling dogs on Track 2 to bagpipes on Track 3), the charm of Anderson's very warm-hearted art lies in the vocal performances. Whilst the music/noises on each track can be somewhat challenging, the largely spoken lyrics draw you into a filmic world that's far from cold or 'difficult'. Subtle humour, of the type that the Yanks do best, is laced through these songs.
Ultimately, Laurie Anderson is perhaps not trying to say anything startlingly profound about life's big questions (as some - not amongst these reviews - have suggested) but takes delight in illuminating little corners of life that tell us a lot about mankind's foibles, occasional failings and overwhelming humanity. She starts the album with the tannoy musings of a pilot about to attempt a crash-landing, and ends it with the heart-melting line "Your eyes. It's a day's work just looking into them.". How does she do that?
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 22 Jun. 2007
Format: Audio CD
Laurie Anderson's roots were clearly in art, her years prior to the release of 'Big Science' taking in performance, art criticism, unreleased avant garde music, and her path crossing with such luminaries as Philip Glass, William S Burroughs, Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg. The album itself was an odd one, a major label distillation of Anderson's stage presentation 'United States I - IV' - all of which were eventually released as a box set of live recordings a few years later (...something I'd like to see reissued on compact disc). 'Big Science' is a record that sounded revolutionary and forward thinking back then, in between, and right about now. This remastered edition sounding even better, sounding like the future, and the kind of record that you can use to dismiss major label pseudo-experimentation like 'Kid A' by Radiohead.

In the UK, 'Big Science' and Laurie Anderson are probably best known for the accidental hit single 'O Superman (For Massanet)', which was a hit after being championed by the late, great John Peel. It also had a very odd video that I found strangely reassuring - 'O Superman' has to be one of the strangest hit singles of all time, from its central loop of someone taking a half-breath (...uhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhetc...) to Anderson's oblique spoken word, to the vocoding effects on the vocals, and music that shifts in from the background to the fore (...one part really reminds me of parts of the soundtrack to 'Koyaanisqatsi' by Philip Glass). It's hypnotic stuff and I can understand completely why a 60-something co-worker of mine used to play it taped off the radio in the car (& nothing else) back in the 80s.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 Sept. 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Big Science is one of my favourite Laurie Anderson albums, possibly because it was my first encounter with her music, but mainly because of the raw simplicity underlying the technology. There can't be too many songs that include bagpipes, violin and human voice all trying to emulate each other, but Sweaters does it with gusto creating an incredibly muscial cacophany. The tremendous, thundering percussion on this track adds a dramatic dash of arrhythmia to the mix.

The CD itself contains just the original tracks, with the additional material available as CD-Rom content, as previously mentioned. This means that the CD itself is no different to the original - except that in the cleanup process, the analogue hiss was removed. Unfortunately, this has necessitated the removal of the first howl from the title track, following which there was a period of silence before the second howl and the vocals beginning. A very small edit, but it just doesn't feel right this way. On an "ideal" version of an album, it is strange to have bits removed. Interestingly, I remember Laurie herself commenting on the instruments used on her tour during the autumn of 2001 - where she added some old synths to the list of instruments used in order to add some "analogue dirt". I like the analogue dirt! I'll stick to the original version of the album, I think, and keep the new version for the O Superman video and the studio version of "Walk the dog".
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