By Sara Llamas
David Bowie left Los Angeles to beat his drug addiction. The influence of the drug culture in California was too much, so Bowie headed out and moved to Europe. Luckily this move was successful in beating his addiction and aided in his creation of some great music; music that David Bowie considered his “DNA,” The Berlin Trilogy. These three consecutive albums were made by Bowie, Low, Heroes, and Lodger. All of which were influenced by German music at the time through ambience.
The album Low and Heroes use experimental techniques of electronic rock, and the focus of the tone more than guitar-based rock while the album Lodger, uses more conventional song structure and many song styles such as new wave, Middle Eastern music, reggae and krautrock (experimental rock).The Berlin Trilogy received mixed reviews on its performance, especially for the album Lodger. It was even called by the Rolling Stones one of Bowie’s weakest releases to date. But now these albums are widely received and enjoyed, especially the album Heroes. But many music critics consider Low to be the best album of the trilogy and the most innovative album made by David Bowie because of its unorthodox making, and scrapping the idea of what an album should be. The album Low is influential for it’s experimentation and influenced later music, like the post-punk genre.
The song Heroes is considered influential in the falling of the Berlin Wall. The German government would thank Bowie by “helping to bring down the Wall”, adding “you are now among Heroes”. This influential song is about two lovers, one from the East and West of the Berlin wall. Bowie created this song when first inspired by seeing a couple kiss by the Berlin wall. What’s so interesting about this passionate song is in how it was made. This song is considered, and is categorized, in the ambient genre, which is the focus of tone and the atmosphere of the music, versus it’s structure and rhythm. What helped make the ambience is in the way it was recorded using vocal gating progression. One mic was placed nine inches away from Bowie, a second is 20ft away, the third and final mic is 50 ft away. When capturing noise, only one mic records while the other two are muted. At the beginning of the song the mic closest to Bowie captures his sound, but as the song progresses and David sings louder the mics farther away pick up the noise. At the end of the song Bowie’s screaming is heard by the farthest mic making it a raw and passionate song, creating the iconic ambience that many know and love.