The stark reality of David Bowie's 2003 album Reality is that there really isn't any concept. The vivid, wildly impressive result is one of the most powerful sets of songs in Bowie's illustrious body of work. Coming from the creative pioneer who brought rock music a newfound narrative drama and depth with 1972's classic The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, the premise for Reality - Bowie's 26th album - couldn't have been more straightforward.
"I said to myself that I would just do a collection of songs that I was writing at the time," Bowie recalls. "A collection of songs with no through line, no undercurrent of any kind of narrative, no concept of tying it all together." The initial mission for Reality was that simple - write a batch of new songs, and may the best song win. "Each song was autonomous in my head," says Bowie. "Yet it did seem for some reason there was still a unity in there somehow. The album pulls together as a complete piece, even though the styles are quite diverse."
Smart, sharp and intense, Reality offers a gritty soundscape that's everything we've come to expect from the musical icon. Just as Bowie's late-70s albums Low and Heroes - recorded in Berlin during a period of great personal transformation - conveyed the sonic texture of that place, so too does Reality capture the aggressive edge and street wisdom of Bowie's most recent home, New York City. Its acclaimed, moody predecessor, 2002's Heathen, was recorded in the relative peace of upstate New York while Reality was recorded in lower Manhattan and is laced with references to Battery Park, Riverside, the Hudson, and the pretty/ugly feel of cracked Big Apple pavement.
Like Heathen, Reality finds Bowie once again working closely with producer Tony Visconti, a key collaborator going back to the days of The Man Who Sold The World, and albums like Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters. Songs like the opening gem "New Killer Star" and "Looking For Water" appear to comment on world events in a poetic, potent way. Still there is also much wit and joy here. Add up the social commentary with more personal songs like the reflective "Days," and the result is a geo-political, rock & roll gas. Like his narrator in "New Killer Star," Bowie seems to be both asking us to face the music and declaring let's dance.
Colored 180g vinyl LP with tri-fold cover from Friday Music, mastered by Joe Reagoso at Friday Music Studios/Capitol Mastering and manufactured at RTI.