Laurie Anderson has been an intriguing and captivating performance artist since the 1970s, mixing voice, visuals, violin and synth-textures into artistic events that are thought-provoking, entertaining and often highly amusing.
Anderson first became widely known for her 1981 left-field single “O Superman,” which was a surprise No. 2 hit on the United Kingdom pop music charts. This song was included on her 1982 album Big Science, which remains essential listening for fans of experimental music. Those with more stamina might want to check out United States Live, a four-hour-plus recording from which Big Science only gives highlights.
Anderson’s musical endeavors have included several more albums, and she has collaborated with an impressive collection of experimental musicians such as Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Jean Michel Jarre (check out his criminally underappreciated album Zoolook) and Lou Reed, who she married in 2008. She has also toured multiple major performance art pieces, at times featuring instruments and devices that she invented.
Anderson has made several visits to Santa Barbara in recent years, the latest being the presentation of her amazing multimedia work “Delusion” almost exactly two years ago.
Thanks again to UCSB Arts & Lectures, she will be back at Campbell Hall on the UCSB campus on Tuesday for the Southern California premiere of “Dirtday!”
“Dirtday!” is the third part of Anderson’s storytelling trilogy; previous installments were “Happiness” and “End of the Moon.” With “Dirtday!,” we can look forward to Anderson’s observations, anecdotes and wry humor on topics such as evolution, family, religion and politics. And I’d wager that her male alter-ego, the “distracted old coot” Fenway Bergamot who speaks through her electronically deepened voice, will make an appearance. Plus, the word on the street is that we’ll see some home videos of her dog.
How does this all fit together, you might ask? Well, we’ll just have to attend her performance to find out.
Click here to purchase tickets to Tuesday’s performance.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.