Personnel: Laurie Anderson (vocals, violin, keyboards, electronics, marimba, percussion); Perry Hoberman (flute, piccolo, saxophone, bottles); Richard Cohen (clarinet, bassoon, baritone saxophone); Peter Gordon (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Bill Obrecht, Chuck Fisher (alto & tenor saxophones); George Lewis (trombone); Roma Baran (accordion, keyboards, percussion); David Van Tieghem (marimba, drums, percussion).
Recorded at The Lobby, New York, New York; The Hit Factory, New York, New York; Skyline Studios, New York, New York; Sorcerer Sound, New York, New York.
Enhancements include a video of "O Superman."
With BIG SCIENCE, avant-garde sculptor Laurie Anderson made the big leap from fringe performance artist to commercial success. Originally creating music to embellish her artwork, Laurie soon moved on to creating the music for its own sake, providing a new sound comprised of electronics, voice enhancers, and humorous vignettes. Totally original for 1982, BIG SCIENCE stands up to the test of time, still sounding like an innovative mark of creativity.
From "This is your Captain speaking...," the opening lines of "From The Air," Laurie stands firmly in charge, piloting through an idiosyncratic and iconoclastic sonic experiment. The title track is an electronic dirge, exotic and technical--a futuristic ballad. "Sweaters" is a Middle Eastern kiss-off ("I no longer love the color of your sweaters..."), with the curious instrumentation of bagpipes, violin and drums. The unlikely hit "O Superman," with its repeated, hyperventilating "ah"s and spooky comical text, sets the tone--especially when Anderson asks to be held with "electronic arms." The acoustic, international grab-bag of "Example #22" provides one of the funnier lines on an album of countless, clever gems: "Honey you're my one and only/So pay me what you owe me." She also credits several paranormals for their work on the track.
BIG SCIENCE is a collection of mesmerizing songs featuring quirky, heady poetry and wonderfully peculiar instrumentation (particularly Anderson's violin, which has a tape-equiped bow that draws against a recording head built into its body). It is an album of distinctive electronic mood music that helped change the landscape of alternative pop music.
Spin (p.124) - "A record about mythic America, airplane disasters, exurban sprawl, alienation, false saviors, and technology as a security blanket..."
Uncut (p.89) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he broader themes of alienation and disconnection, as voiced in deadpan manner on 'From The Air' still resonate..."
The Wire (p.62) - "The effect was simultaneously poetic and quirky....Standout tracks were the deeply felt 'Walking & Falling', and the subtly building atmosphere of the closing three pieces..."