David J with Federale and Friends - The Day That David Bowie Died EP - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

David J with Federale and Friends - The Day That David Bowie Died EP

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2016-06-10

Bauhaus and Love and Rockets bassist David J [Haskins] bought Bowie’s secretly-intentional swan song Blackstar the day it was released (not coincidentally, Bowie’s birthday). He listened to it the next day and was blown away by its multi-layered complexity. Bowie died the next day. A second listen to the album left David in tears, and he transformed that emotion and energy into the lead track on this 3-track 10” EP.

     Recorded in Portland (Oregon) with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Collin Hegna and members of the Portland-based Federale, the song opens with a melancholic riff reminiscent of ‘Space Odyssey’, accompanied by Rick Pedrosa's weeping pedal steel guitar and J’s diary-as-lyrics that set the autobiographical scene. Federale’s trademark spaghetti Western-styled twang form the perfect backing to lyrics like “The ghosts that haunted Hammersmith are banished/Ziggy has retired now for good”. J asks the musical question that every rocker of a certain age will always remember the answer to: “Where were you the day that David Bowie died?”

     Nathan Jr.'s elegant piano figure rolls into the room, adding another elegiac layer to this emotional rollercoaster that every fan of Bowie and J’s music needs to hear. Tributes like this can often be maudlin and filled with greater intentions than ideas, but J hits the emotions within all of us by laying his personal reaction out there for us to identify with, making it among the best of the Bowie tributes so far.

     Flipping the 10” over, we get two versions (vocal and instrumental) of the gentle rumination, ‘Ascension’. This one has a touch of Donovan in J’s acoustic guitar lines and nearly-spoken vocals, and I’m not sure if this is supposed to continue the Bowie-leaving-the-planet theme of his A side, but it’s a pretty track that allows us to further contemplate life’s short span. It flows seamlessly into the instrumental version, which features tearful strings, J’s gentle strumming, and as with its companions on this wonderful EP, it allows time to navel gaze, contemplate the universe, or recall our own favourite Bowie moments, just as its subtitle ('Meditation') suggests.

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