Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered certainly acts as gateway to the strange world of sound and vision belonging to the Thin White Duke, but not in the way its producers probably hoped. The stuttered junk-jazz ambience of the beep-blipped covers are so backward in their approach (stripping each song of any distinct character or melody and pumping them to a full bloat of faceless, synth-chunked electronica) that it nearly forces the listener to return to the oddly lovely plastic soul of the original LPs instead of lifeless, listless metal-machine music of Covered.
In the end, Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone’s take on Hunky Dory’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” remains the only tolerable track here, due simply to the fact that it’s such a pretty thing itself compared to the messy electronic washes of confused electronics that surround it. A nearly a cappella ballad, “Oh! You Pretty Things” stands apart for simply keeping the original’s beautiful lullaby melody. It’s pretty to be sure, but still blank-faced; you get the feeling that Au Revoir Simone has no idea what the song is about, just that it exists to be covered.
It’s a lot like listening to Doug Yule sing Lou Reed’s words on Loaded: It’s hummable, but without a trace of emotion whatsoever. And if I want to hear that, I’ll just listen to my Bowie Does Lou bootleg again.