INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Observer JUNE 12, 2011 - by Jon Savage
BOWIE MOVES TO BERLIN
August 1976: Number 33 in our series of the fifty key events in the history of rock music.
In the spring of 1976, David Bowie was dangerously close to burnout from fame and drugs. He had just released his tenth studio album, Station To Station, and, with Iggy Pop in tow, was travelling through a Europe that he interpreted through his ambiguous obsessions with cold war politics and the second world war.
The mid-1970s saw a remarkable renaissance in German rock, with ground-breaking records by Kraftwerk, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Can and others.
Much of this music combined rhythmic repetition, synthesiser pulses and melodic, perceptual phases into something that was both ambient and perfect to listen to while travelling.
The title track from Station To Station, in particular, inhabited this motorik feel. In April, Bowie and Iggy met Kraftwerk - an event immortalised by the German group on 1977's Trans-Europe Express. In late summer 1976, Bowie resettled in west Berlin and began a series of recordings that would reassert his position as a cultural leader.
During 1977, Bowie released two futuristic albums: Low and "Heroes". Each matched a side of clipped songs with another of evocative, ambient instrumentals created with Brian Eno. The mood was withdrawn, remote and even, on occasion, lush. Their influence on British music in the late '70s and early '80s was immense.