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Howe, Dylan: Subterranean – New Designs On Bowie's Berlin

It is no surprise Dylan Howe followed in his famous father's footsteps and pursued the life of a musician. Instead of guitar, Howe chose the drum kit. He has had a stint in Ian Dury and the Blockheads, appeared in the Steve Howe Trio and recently played on the album Going Back Home, a collaboration between The Who's Roger Daltrey and Dr. Feelgood's Wilko Johnson.

For the last several years Howe has been putting the Subterranean album together, playing the songs live and finally releasing it in 2014. The songs are reimaginings of Berlin era David Bowie culling songs from Low and Heroes, both released in 1977.

There is always a risk when musicians redo legendary songs and both Bowie albums are highly regarded in his vast body of work. What is even more impressive is that these songs are completely rearranged and the results are stunning. In fact, Subterranean is the best jazz album I have heard in 2014.

It doesn't hurt to surround oneself with talented musicians and Howe's band is top notch. The main band is Mark Hodgson (double bass), Ross Stanley (piano, synths), Julian Siegel (saxophone), Brandon Allen (saxophone). Nick Pini adds bass on a couple tracks and Steve Howe adds koto on "Moss Garden", just as Bowie did on the original tune. His playing is really quite lovely making this one of the more moodier pieces.

The title track begins with brooding atmospherics, a smattering of piano and subtle stick work from Howe. Before too long swirling piano lines and gorgeous saxophone will ingrain in your memory. Howe's stamp is all over "Weeping Wall", taken from the Low album. His deft touch and ambitious fills and rhythms are on full display. Thick bass and atmospheric synths along with fabulous piano and vibrant sax fills out the rest.

The two longest tracks, "All Saints" and "Warszawa" are equally as entertaining. The former transitions beautifully from moody synth led sections to swinging jazz grooves while the latter features a droning guitar intro courtesy of Adrian Utley, filling the soundscape with an unnerving tension before the band gets into a full swing bopping groove. The saxophone solos and drum work are masterfully done.

Subterranean is a superbly crafted and ambitious album of pure swinging jazz and moody electronic overtones and is completely deserving of an excellent 4 stars. Apparently, Mr. Bowie thinks this is pretty good too.

Track Listing:
1. Subterraneans
2. Weeping Wall
3. All Saints
4. Some Are
5. Neuköln – Night
6. Art Decade
7. Warszawa
8. Neuköln – Day
9. Moss Garden

Added: January 24th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1912
Language: english

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