Anyone who knows me knows that I have long been a huge fan of Laurie Anderson’s work (dating back to High School when Paul made me listen to O Superman (For Massenet). In college I studied a lot of experimental and modern music and spent endless hours locked in the Bregman Electronic Music Studio composing strange things, much of which was deeply inspired by Anderson’s music. When Strange Angels came out, I remember after I finished DJing a dance party at my Co-Ed Fraternity, I put the new CD on and I pulled a small couch to the middle of the empty living room and listened to the whole thing at 2 in the morning on the sound system. To this day, my friend JIm and I are likely to start a conversation by quoting Hansel and Gretel in The Dream Before: “Hansel and Gretel are alive and well and they’re living in Berlin. She says, ‘Hansel, you’re really bringing me down.’ And he says, ‘Gretel? You can really be a bitch.'”
When I learned a few weeks ago that she had a new CD coming out based on a few years of live shows she’s done around the world, I was beside myself. I listened to it on NPR’s website, streamed up until the album’s release yesterday.
Homeland harkens back to her earlier works reminding me more of United States or Big Science than the more recent works such as Bright Red. Anderson talks about how the music is far more improvisational, that she went on the road without anything being complete or settled and worked with different musicians and spaces and ideas and how the music evolved over time. It has a spontaneous feel to it while still being deeply grounded in what I easily recognize as Anderson’s style of sound (though I couldn’t begin to properly describe it, and I’ve tried!)
The music is also more political than I remember her being in previous works and I like it very much. The song Only an Expert, easily my favorite so far, pokes good fun (though with an undercurrent of anger) at the modern sound machine that politics, news, and discourse has devolved into.
I actually went to a Fye and purchased the physical album rather than getting it on Amazon or iTunes as is my usual M.O. music in part because it comes with a DVD that I would not have otherwise gotten and in part because there are a few artists that I still prefer to have physical media than pure digital files.
An album release like this is one of those rare events that I love. I don’t often get to completely lose myself both in music and the memories the previous releases bring out in me. It’s been too long since her last album. I hope I don’t have to wait so long for the next one.