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Dark Visions and Hopeful Hints
on 10 July 2010
Any release by Laurie Anderson gives us cause for celebration.
It doesn't happen very often so it's time to put on our party hats!
Her last studio outing 'Life On A String' (2001) was a box brimming
over with wonders. 'Homeland' is no less so. It is a visionary work.
Her preoccupation with documenting her own complex emotional
reflections and responses to her country's heart and history is
born out of deep love and an indestructible sense of hopefulness.
(Her 1984 masterpiece 'United States Live' is another vivid
and stirring testimony of profound dedication to her muse).
Ms Anderson, despite her marriage to Lou Reed, doesn't make
rock and roll. (She does, however, have a creditable dalliance
with things-disco on 'Only an Expert'!)
These twelve compositions, together, create an extraordinary
sonic tapestry. The gentle, haunting, inimitable voice, sometimes
bleakly alone, sometimes gloriously multi-tracked; the plaintive
power of her electric violin, both a sword and a shield with the
power to sooth and heal or blister and burn are both present and
correct and uniquely affecting.
From the sublime opening track 'Transitory Life', with its
heart-rending ululating vocal by Aidysmaa Koshkendey slicing
the ether like a knife ; through the wry, pithy and hillarious
observations about contemporary American culture (the sub-prime
mortgage debacle comes in for a particularly potent bashing!)
of the aforementioned, dance-oriented, spectacle of 'Only An Expert'
(Mr Reed's rip-roaring guitar contribution makes the ground tremble
beneath our feet!); to the gentle string threnody of the luminous
and utterly beautiful final track 'Flow', 'Homeland' is probably
the most important musical event to have burst into the listening
world so-far this year (at least to these hairy ears!)
Other treasures would have to include the dreamily exotic
'Strange Perfumes' and the monolithic 'Another Day In America',
both blessed with the near-spectral presence of Antony Hegarty's
otherworldly voice woven almost imperceptibly into the mix.
Ms Anderson has never been afraid to stare the devil down.
'Homeland' is an exorcism, an exegesis and a transcendent
vehicle for renewed optimism.
(The accompanying DVD sheds light on the creative process via
facinating interviews with many of the key figures involved
in bringing this richly rewarding musical meal to the table.
Lou Reed is an absolute sweetie!!
The packaging for both discs is of the finest quality and
further illuminates our enjoyment and understanding of the
project through additional textual and phographic material).