“Planet Earth is Blue”

This week's show is, frankly, sad.

This is the week that David Bowie died, which most of us had been assuming just couldn't happen. A bit like Keith Richards. Or Lemmy, although we were also wrong about that. But whereas Keef's survival is easily understood as a celestial administrative error in his favour, Bowie has presided with the watchful, ethereal majesty of the visiting alien he once portrayed. Even in the 10 year hiatus that he released no music, his cultural presence remained substantive. Not just an image, not just a retro indulgence, not just an icon of the past. An embodiment of cool, of unbridled freedom of personal expression, of exploration and unbeholden identity. This was a man who explored versions of himself not through crisis, but through relentless progress. Not faddish, just Bowie.

Through a peak that lasted two decades his each iteration brought era defining music. Perhaps my favourite thing reading and watching the mournful reactions to his death is how people are all drawn to wildly different areas of his work. He wasn't just a star of an era who hobbled on, cashing in. This was an artist who kept doing new and different things that interested him, long after his commercial height, right to the very end of his life.

I grew up in a household which for whatever reason didn't play The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. My Dad played David Bowie. My childhood put Bowie in that place, at the very top of the musical pyramid (where, presumably, his spaceship could land without a permit.) I think he's probably more interesting in his entirety than either of those other great bands, although it's not really a competition. He is real, worthy, massively meaningful, is my point.

While his last release—Blackstar—is obviously being analyzed for messages for the end (and there are no shortage of stark ones), it's worth remembering that in all the framing around his final release and sudden, unexpected death, he had also been talking with Brian Eno about revisiting their record Outside. While his fatal diagnosis was something he worked around and the result is poetic, it was still untimely. This is not a man who was waiting to die. Pleasingly, no-one was waiting for an excuse to play his music either.

Time may change me
But I can't trace time

— Ben

Inevitably, we play a fair bit of Bowie this week, and we'll do some more next week with Tom Coates, but business continues as usual too: 2016 is slowly ramping up with some new music from the likes of Yeasayer, Steve Mason and Tindersticks, an we've a lovely excerpt from Max Richter's epic “Sleep” composition.


  1. Whitechapel by S.C.U.M. on Again Into Eyes (Mute)
  2. Sound and Vision by David Bowie on Low (RCA)
  3. Changes by David Bowie on Hunky Dory (RCA)
  4. Under Pressure by Queen ft David Bowie on Hot Space (Hollywood Records)
  5. Break
  6. Hero Whales by Ms. John Soda on Loom (Morr Music)
  7. Planet Sizes by Steve Mason on Planet Sizes (Domino)
  8. Were Were Once Lovers by Tindersticks on Were Were Once Lovers (City Slang)
  9. Break
  10. Not About Dying by Prom on Not About Dying (ILYAAP)
  11. Crying in Public by Chairlift on Moth (Columbia Records)
  12. I Am Chemistry by Yeasayer on Amen & Goodbye (Mute Records)
  13. You Look Like a Sad Painting on Both Sides of the Sky by MONEY on You Look Like a Sad Painting on Both Sides of the Sky (Bella Union)
  14. Lazarus by David Bowie on Blackstar (Sony)
  15. Break
  16. Adore by Savages on Adore Life (Matador)
  17. Lost Weekend by Pete Yorn on ArrangingTime (Capitol)
  18. Runaway by White Magic on I'm Hiding My Nightingale (Leaving Records)
  19. Path 5 by Max Richter on Sleep (Deutsche Grammophon GmbH)
  20. Life on Mars? by David Bowie on Hunky Dory (Warner)
  21. Break
  22. Keep It Mello feat. Omar LinX by Marshmello on Joytime (Joytime Collective)
  23. Pretty Things by Pell on Pretty Things (Self-released)
  24. Queen's Speech 5 by Lady Leshurr on Queen's Speech (Self-released)