It’s been six years since David Bowie passed, each year filled with a palpable longing and a blackstar-shaped hole in our hearts. This past weekend, the world also celebrated what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday, which culminated in a star-studded livestream performance led by longtime pianist Mike Garson. One of the highlights of this year’s Bowie Celebration was Evan Rachel Wood’s nostalgic performance of Labyrinth‘s centerpiece ballad “As the World Falls Down,” sung beautifully while the worm from the beginning of the film sat in charming reverence. The Jim Henson-driven film, for many of my generation a first glimpse at the mysterious and alluring world of Bowie, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, and given the film’s plot and the uncertainty of our lives these days, no sentiment I could offer is better than simply: what is time?
In addition to all of these sweetly sombre celebrations, one of our most favorite musicians, Joshua Strachan (Blacklist, Vaura, Meridiane, Azar Swan, Vain Warr). has also offered up a cover of the Labyrinth ballad. Listen below:
For those unfamiliar with the tune, it’s one of the most memorable moments from the film – once our protagonist has gone into a poison peach-induced slumber, she dreams of a glamorous masked ball where she shares an intimate moment with The Goblin King, who has otherwise kidnapped her baby brother. While the intent is for their dance to waste more precious time, there’s a certain sinister adoration shared between the two, the latter who also wishes to possess Sarah yet give her everything she has ever dreamed of, despite both of them working against each other throughout the film. “As the World Falls Down” perfectly encapsulates this magical scene with a twinkling music-box melody, smooth bass lines, a yearning chorus, and of course, David Bowie’s soaring vocals, softly stated yet deeply croon. Strachan’s cover doesn’t break much from the mold of the original, yet serves as a welcome modern take on the song and a gift for anyone celebrating Bowie’s tremendous life and career this past weekend. Strachan’s vocals channel Bowie’s delicate croon perfectly, while subtle electronic flourishes and carefully considered guitar (performed by Dysrhythmia/Gorguts/Vaura’s Kevin Hufnagel) bring out even more beauty in the track.
Strachan offers a few words about selecting this track, and the overarching themes in the song that inform his work:
I was listening to this a lot when I was writing Vaura “Sables” and it’s long been one of my favorite Bowie songs from the period. “Sables” was all about endings, it was very apocalyptic but also influenced by a short book called “The Agony of Eros” by Byung Chul-Han. But “The Lightless Ones” was the closest I ever went on that record to talking about love. The song doesn’t have an object of affection, it sort of imagines the possibility of one, and of an almost perpetual tryst, a love in the shadows.
This Bowie track is almost the connective tissue between that and the dominant emotional space of the new Blacklist record we just finished. There’s a lyric on one of the new Blacklist songs, “what can it mean to fall in love at the end of time, and do we need a companion for the pyre?” Which isn’t terribly uplifting. But I think this Bowie track paints it in a different shade of apocalypse. There’s a delicate beauty to it, a sort of answer to my question, maybe?
“As the World Falls Down” was mixed and mastered by Xavier Paradis of Automelodi and is available for free download via Strachan’s Primal Architecture Records. The cover, featuring a still from Labyrinth‘s ballroom scene, was created and manipulated by Joan Pope (Temple Ov Saturn). As we continue to celebrate the life and times of David’s illustrious career from now into eternity, be sure to play this one loud!