February 12, 2013

It is not uncommon for pop stars to develop on-stage personas, but when it comes to the art of the alter ego, David Bowie is undoubtedly in a league of his own. From the distinctive glam-androgyny of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, to the more sinister Thin White Duke, David Bowie’s many “characters” were such highly developed personalities that they often transcended the stage by reflecting some dimension of reality. Indeed, in 1976 while Bowie was performing under the guise of the ‘Duke’—a vapid, immoral (but nonetheless impeccably dressed) aristocrat—Bowie reports that he was living on a diet of “red peppers, cocaine, and milk.” Yummy.

A new exhibition at London’s Vinyl Factory—entitled Nacht Musik—takes a retrospective look at the tremendously influential personas developed by Bowie at his creative zenith during the second half of the ’70s. Nacht Musik features a side-by-side display of all 45 of Bowie’s vinyl 7″ single covers from Starman (1972) to Without You (1984), accompanied by a publication of the artwork limited to 300 numbered copies.

The limited edition catalogue is guaranteed to become a collector’s item for Bowie fanatics (well, at least those willing to pony up 80 quid for a paperback that is less than 100 pages). Slightly more alluring is that the book also contains a 7″ white vinyl pressing of a rare 1978 radio interview, which does admittedly contain some gems (e.g. Bowie stating his principle of music-making: “If it works, then it’s already out of date.” He was also apparently super embarrassed of his songs that became disco hits: “I’ve had two and I can’t even hold my head up now in art clubs!”)

After making his recovery from the “Duke Diet”, Bowie went on to collaborate with Brian Eno on a trilogy of albums while living in Berlin (LowHeroes, and Lodger), which completely revitalized his career and solidified his place as a pop music legend. This is time to which Bowie is directly referring in his new single, “Where Are We Now?”, released last month on his 66th birthday.

Surprisingly it seems Mr. Bowie will also be joining the recent crop of artists in the 2013 trend of releasing a new album for the first time in FOREVER (see also: The Knife and My Bloody Valentine). His forthcoming album, The Next Day, is due out this March and will be his first studio album to be released in over a decade.

Nacht Music runs until March 4, 2013.

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