Laurie Anderson’s 1982 debut album, Big Science, will return to vinyl for the first time in 30 years with a new red vinyl edition on Nonesuch Records. In the early 1980s, Laurie Anderson was already respected as a conceptual artist and composer, adept at employing gear both high-tech and homemade in her often violin-based pieces, and she was a familiar figure in the cross-pollinating, Lower Manhattan music-visual art-performance circles from which Philip Glass and David Byrne also emerged. While working on her now-legendary seven-hour performance art/theater piece United States, Part I–IV, she cut the spare ‘O Superman (For Massenet)’, an electronic-age update of 19th century French operatic composer Jules Massenet’s aria ‘O Souverain’, for the tiny New York City indie label 110 Records. In the UK, DJ John Peel picked up a copy of this very limited-edition 33⅓ RPM 7” and spun the eight-minute-plus track on BBC Radio 1. The exposure resulted in an unlikely #2 hit, lots of attention in the press, and a worldwide deal with Warner Bros. Records.
At the time of its original release, the NME wrote of Big Science, ‘There’s a dream-like, subconscious quality about her songs which helps them work at deeper, secret levels of the psyche.’ With instrumentation ranging from tape loops to found sounds to bag pipes, Big Science anticipated the tech-savvy beats, anything-goes instrumentation and sample-based nature of much contemporary electronic and dance music. On the album’s 25th anniversary, Uncut noted, ‘The broader themes of alienation and disconnection still resonate, while Anderson’s use of loops and traditional/synthesized instrumentation is prescient.’