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Album review: Laurie Anderson's 'Homeland'

Laurie Anderson homeland

Homeland-2010-splash Only Laurie Anderson, the violin-playing poet laureate of American estrangement, could make an industrial-tinged club banger that dives into the following topics with clear-eyed passion, anguish and humor: America's blind trust in authority; the media's appetite for spectacle; the subprime mortgage collapse and the ensuing domino effect on the market; and U.S. policies of preemptive invasion and detention without trial. Phew — got all that? Thank goodness you can dance to it, or else you might crumple to the floor in tears.

For every overtly political turn like "Only an Expert," Anderson, on her first studio album in nine years, includes an atmospheric meditation on modern existence or, sometimes, love, giving the title, "Homeland," resonance beyond the nationalistic meaning.

On "Strange Perfumes," one of the songs with vocals from kindred New York artist Antony Hegarty, she sings, "Where does love go when love is gone? To what war-torn city?" It perfectly evokes the level of deep symbolism that Anderson's working on throughout "Homeland," one where war is not only a tragedy in and of itself but a metaphor for other states of loss or alienation.

Produced by Anderson, her husband Lou Reed and Roma Baran, "Homeland" was sewn together from bits mostly recorded from improvisations on tour.

The performance artist road-tested the album's powerful narratives for more than two years, bringing in performers including avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn and experimental electronic musician Kieran Hebden of Four Tet.

It's a fascinating way of putting together a work that has a profoundly nomadic feel -- from the opening song "Transitory Life" to the natively wandering Tuvan throat singers who appear on certain tracks to Anderson's own roaming proclivities between music, art, political activism, all tying into a world of breathless ideas.

"Homeland" isn't so much an album as it is a poetic capturing of the still moments of a restless mind.

-- Margaret Wappler

Laurie Anderson
Nonesuch Records
Four stars (Out of four)

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Comments () | Archives (3)

Four out of Four stars?!?

Oh right. I forgot that the reviewer in question is nothing more than an anti-America/American, uber-leftist, Hugo Chavez-esque member of the similar-minded Democrat Party, so of course Wappler would give someone like Laurie Anderson, who's career is pretty much non-existant and will continue to be so, four stars.

Note to Wappler: why not just come out with it and state YOUR opinions of this, despite everything that MAObama has done, STILL GREAT COUNTRY; THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, instead of hiding behind an irrelevant review of an irrelevant "musician".

"Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." - Joseph Goebbels - Propaganda Minister, SOCIALIST NAZI Party; 1939

"A man who reads nothing is far smarter than a man who reads nothing but newspapers." - Thomas Jefferson - Third President of The United States of America; 1789

It's pretty obvious which ideology the Times/Wappler sides with. Sad. Pathetic, but oh so VERY true.

P.S. -- ANOTHER incumbent Democrat Party member goes down in a resounding defeat, with a conservative taking their place. Here's to the upcoming, wholesale slaughter of the Democrat Party, not only come November, but also in 2012. So much for MAObama's "legacy".

Thanks for your concise and insightful commentary on an amazing album by someone who has knit together several significant forms of artistic expression--music, performance art, poetry--to convey her powerful commentary on today's complicated world.

Michael, has Toby Keith released any masterpieces lately that can be reviewed in here?



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