This latest project by the DSQ follows in the imaginary footsteps of David Bowie and his Berlin Years.
The music here explores and re-visits the period when Bowie experimented with the ambient world of Brian Eno, free improvisation, and the minimalist works of the classical composer, Philip Glass.
This album guides the listener on an inspirational sonic journey, mixing music and soundscapes from Bowie, Berlin & Beyond.
The British composer David Power writes:
'It was through Ziggy and his friends that I first heard Bowie's albums and these totally changed my view of him. In particular, the extended electronic instrumental tone poems he wrote (partly with Eno, during his Berlin period) made a very strong impression on me. As a 15 year old, I had never heard anything like these before. I wanted more.
I started by following up on Eno. As well as his own ambient albums, he had also persuaded his record company to let him set up his own label, Obscure Records, which he devoted largely to the English experimental school. It released recordings of works by Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, John White, John Cage and John Adams amongst others. Bowie and Eno had also drawn on the German Krautrock scene and I explored that too. A name that kept on coming up was Stockhausen.
For me this was my gateway into contemporary classical music. Fast forward a few decades and I am now running a small contemporary music festival in Lincolnshire, the Grimsby St Hughs Festival. It occurred to me that if Bowie and Eno's Berlin work could act as a gateway for me, maybe it could do so for others too. I got in touch with the Deltas and invited the quartet to present a concert of some arrangements of Bowie's instrumentals alongside music by Glass, Nyman and Bryars. The audience loved this Bowie inspired mix as the quartet totally embraced the essence of the music.
This concert was the start of a new journey culminating in this 2018 release on Trevor Taylor's eclectic FMR label - a label which very much mirrors the ethos of Eno's Obscure Records.
The Belize born British composer, Errollyn Wallen, said of her own Ensemble X that 'it didn't break down barriers because it didn't see any'. I hope this CD can be heard in the spirit of a remark such as that.'
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond (2018)
With their rounded tone, the admirably cohesive Deltas occupied every corner of the space while retaining impressive precision...
York Press Richard Powell 06/03/2018
So, yeah, compositions by Bowie and Eno really made me fall for this new album from the Delta Saxophone Quartet...
Bird is the Worm Dave Sumner 06/03/2018
Bowie, Berlin Beyond (FMR 473; UK) The Delta Saxophone Quartet features Graeme Blevins on sopranino & soprano saxes & clarinet, Peter Whyman on alto sax & clarinet, Tim Holmes on tenor sax & clarinet and Chris Caldwell on bari sax & bass clarinet. The Delta Sax Quartet are in a class of their own since they choose each project with thoughtful care. With a half dozen discs under their belt, they’ve covered the music of minimalist composers: Philip Glass, Gavin Bryars & Terry Riley, Soft Machine (highly recommended!) and King Crimson.
For their new project, they are covering the music of the late David Bowie, from his Berlin period in the late seventies. Mr. Bowie was a consistently enigmatic singer/composer/conceptualist. His sound and image changed on ever record and embraced the many worlds of rock music. I remember being shocked by his change in direction during his Berlin period, collaborating with Brian Eno (as a producer) and Robert Fripp, as a guest guitarist. The two albums he made during this period, “Low” and “Heroes”, were and still are favorites of those of us who love progressive rock music. It seems almost natural for the Delta Sax Quartet to cover this music as it was quite a departure for Mr. Bowie and perhaps some of darkest and most transcendent. Although the songs on side one of each album were created with rock instrumentation (vocals, electric guitars & bass, drums and bits of synth), the Delta Sax Quartet do a fine job of creating a similar sinister, haunting sound. Aside from the layers of saxes, there is some drum machine samples which seem to fit this music just right. The richly harmonized saxes sound majestic, with a bit of 50's sounding rock licks, not unlike the way Roxy Music (mother exponent of the glam era like Bowie) combined retro and futuristic licks into a unique combination. To keep things interesting, and perhaps not too dark, they cover a few other Bowie songs from other era like, “The Laughing Gnome” (from his early period), “Alabama Song” (written by German composer Bertolt Brecht) and “Music for Airports” (by Eno, from his ambient period). All of these sounds seem to fit the overall vibe, capturing the dark undertow with a poignant gracefulness. All four members of the Delta Sax Quartet play clarinets as well, which also add a certain, warm, wooden, austere tone. A superb disc all the way around.
DMG Bruce Lee Gallanter 11/02/2018
Royal Northern College of Music
Ushaw College, Durham
St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York
Composer Workshop at York St John University