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Laurie Anderson - Big Science

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Big Science

Laurie Anderson

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Laurie Anderson was raised in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago. But when she was composing the material that would become Big Science, she was a New York-based performance artist who was spending a lot of time playing in Europe. "I always felt that Europeans saw the United States as a version of their own future," she said in the notes that accompanied the album's second CD edition. Nearly four decades after its release, that convergence of distanced and Midwestern perspectives seems remarkably prescient. The album begins with a plane crash and ends with a building burning down, which is hard to beat as a metaphor for contemporary life's endless loop of disaster. In between, Anderson tells stories that confront people who talk like they've stepped out of old TV shows being confronted by a technologically advancing world that feels alien and, if you pay attention to the man behind the curtain, quite disturbing. While the harmonized vocal loop that runs through "O Superman (For Massenet)," the novelty hit that launched her career, sounds charmingly primitive now, the picture it paints of a corporate surveillance environment that seems pretty confident that it knows you better than you know yourself feels like life today. And since life in such a scenario can feel like a waking dream, the tracks that used keyboard ambience and spoken narration to evoke dream states haven't aged a bit even though the technology used to make them has. But Big Science is not relentlessly dystopian; the deadpan humor and understated wonder in Anderson's delivery soften its sting. © Bill Meyer/Qobuz

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Big Science

Laurie Anderson

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1
From the Air
00:04:33

Peter Gordon, Tenor Saxophone - Laurie Anderson, Organ, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Organ, Bass - Bill Obrecht, Alto Saxophone - David Van Tieghem, Drums

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

2
Big Science
00:06:22

PERRY HOBERMAN, Contributor - Laurie Anderson, Lyricist, Contributor, Writer, MainArtist

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

3
Sweaters
00:02:23

Laurie Anderson, Composer, Violin, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - David Van Tieghem, Drums - Rufus Harley, Bagpipes

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

4
Walking and Falling
00:02:13

Laurie Anderson, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Rufus Harley, Bagpipes

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

5
Born, Never Asked
00:04:56

PERRY HOBERMAN, Contributor, Claps - Laurie Anderson, Contributor, Violin, Vocals, Writer, Claps, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Contributor, Claps - David Van Tieghem, Marimba

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

6
O Superman
00:08:25

PERRY HOBERMAN, Flute, Saxophone - Laurie Anderson, Composer, Vocals, Vocoder, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Organ

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

7
Example #22
00:02:59

PERRY HOBERMAN, Flute, Piccolo, Background Vocals - Laurie Anderson, Organ, Violin, Vocals, Writer, Whistle, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Accordion, Whistle - David Van Tieghem, Drums, Percussion - Chuck Fisher, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone - Richard Cohen, Bassoon, Bass Clarinet

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

8
Let X=X
00:03:54

PERRY HOBERMAN, Claps - Laurie Anderson, Composer, Organ, Vocals, Writer, Marimba, Claps, Vocoder, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Claps - David Van Tieghem, Musicians - George Lewis, Trombone

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

9
It Tango
00:03:02

PERRY HOBERMAN, Contributor, Claps - Laurie Anderson, Contributor, Organ, Vocals, Writer, Claps, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Contributor, Claps - David Van Tieghem, Musicians

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

10
Walk the Dog
00:05:51

D. Sharpe, Drums - PERRY HOBERMAN, Flute, Saxophone - Laurie Anderson, Violin, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - ROMA BARAN, Organ, Vocoder

2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc. 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.

Album Description

Laurie Anderson was raised in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago. But when she was composing the material that would become Big Science, she was a New York-based performance artist who was spending a lot of time playing in Europe. "I always felt that Europeans saw the United States as a version of their own future," she said in the notes that accompanied the album's second CD edition. Nearly four decades after its release, that convergence of distanced and Midwestern perspectives seems remarkably prescient. The album begins with a plane crash and ends with a building burning down, which is hard to beat as a metaphor for contemporary life's endless loop of disaster. In between, Anderson tells stories that confront people who talk like they've stepped out of old TV shows being confronted by a technologically advancing world that feels alien and, if you pay attention to the man behind the curtain, quite disturbing. While the harmonized vocal loop that runs through "O Superman (For Massenet)," the novelty hit that launched her career, sounds charmingly primitive now, the picture it paints of a corporate surveillance environment that seems pretty confident that it knows you better than you know yourself feels like life today. And since life in such a scenario can feel like a waking dream, the tracks that used keyboard ambience and spoken narration to evoke dream states haven't aged a bit even though the technology used to make them has. But Big Science is not relentlessly dystopian; the deadpan humor and understated wonder in Anderson's delivery soften its sting. © Bill Meyer/Qobuz

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