Bowery Electric


Beggars Banquet

Released February 28th, 2000


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Nearly two years in the making, Bowery Electric's Lushlife takes even greater strides forward. The end result is the meticulous product the band's new state-of-the-art, computer-based, electronic music studio in the heart of Brooklyn—a studio which allows them to see visual representations of every waveform, and opens up new possibilities for songwriting and arranging sound.
As with Beat, the touchstone is hip-hop—through the Bowery Electric filter. The beats are lithe, crisp and deep, and lines are perpetually blurred between samples and live instruments. Urban American experience is here, digested, abstracted, as on Eric B and Rakim's Paid In Full album, say, or Nas' "New York State Of Mind."
Lushlife teems with atomized sounds, each one opening a portal in the mix, importing a haze of space and history, evoking the distant buzz of the city beyond the studio. Throughout, gilded strings build, sway and exhale, plugging the music into the sumptuous melancholy of Philly soul, the emotive Mancini-inspired arrangements of Gaye and Mayfield, and the edgy soundtrack scores of David Shire ("All The Presidents Men", "The Taking Of Pelham 123"). Yet, with all the experiment and variation, Lushlife is actually quite a deliberate and enticing affair for the ear and mind.

Lushlife, the third outing from NYC soothesters Bowery Electric, is a morphine drip of an album, so clear and precise in its smokey, sexy grooves that it seems almost too easy to compare them to fellow late-night nodders Portishead. Vocalist Martha Schwendener certainly fits the bill, though, not so much singing as gently exhaling all over your libido. Opener "Floating World" sets the tone, a mournful dirge of programmed beats over which floats Schwendener's near-death-experience of a voice, haunting and haunted. "Freedom Fighter," a gloom-and-doom epic of sonic distress, emotional and otherwise, includes a nod to Seventies singer-songwriting suicide Nick Drake, while the closing "Passages" offers a glimpse of hope amongst the savages. With their subdued theatricality and lush strings, there's also a hint of Julee Cruise here as well, though like their name, Bowery Electric are a distinctly New York after-hours consortium, showing up on your doorstep at 2am looking like a sad, soggy kitten, hungry for milk and more. Yummy. - Mark Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
1. Floating World
2. Lushlife
3. Shook Ones
4. Psalms of Survival
5. Soul City
6. Freedom Fighter
7. Saved
8. Deep Blue
9. After Landing
10. Passages