S/D Laurie Anderson

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I tried searching and couldn't find anything of this sort on ILM but a classic/dud discussion of "O Superman" (clearly classic). I only own Big Science. Seen Mister Heartbreak around for a few bucks a bunch of times recently, but not at places with listening stations, so I'm not taking the risk. Should I? what of her's is classic?

Also, I've been wondering, did she do vocal work for Glass? Her voice always sounded so familiar on Big Science; just like the female voice on the Einstein on the Beach knee plays spoken parts ("it could be franky. it could be..."). But that could just be the style.

Dan Gr (certain), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 23:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Here's a previous overview thread: C90: Laurie Anderson

Tuesdays With Morimoto (Rock Hardy), Thursday, 8 February 2007 00:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Laurie does not sing on "Einstein".

I am now reviving that other thread 'cause I liked it.

sleeve (sleeve), Thursday, 8 February 2007 00:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Search: Big Science, Mr Heartbreak, US Live, Bright Red/Tightrope, Ugly One With The Jewels, any live show you can possibly see.

Destroy: Strange Angels is my least favorite by far although I haven't heard anything new in around a decade. I suspect I would also dislike the Moby Dick album. and the tracks on the Airwaves album are really embryonic and half-formed.

sleeve (sleeve), Thursday, 8 February 2007 00:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Destroy: contemplation of Anderson and Reed in the conjugal bower.

bendy (bendy), Thursday, 8 February 2007 02:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

definitely destroy the Reed track on Tightrope, yeah.

sleeve (sleeve), Thursday, 8 February 2007 02:55 (twelve years ago) Permalink

S: --->Bright Red (incl)
D: Bright Red (excl) ---->

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Thursday, 8 February 2007 09:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

OMG, the kids introducing this:

I know, right?, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 19:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

oh hi

a hat check clerk at an ice rink (n/a), Tuesday, 16 September 2008 19:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

They're so cute! The one on the left, how she's so awkward, but pretty, and they're so enthusiastic!

I know, right?, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 19:56 (ten years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

Has anyone heard/seen *Nothing in My Pockets*? Book + 2 CDs: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/2914563434/
I'll probably buy it anyway, although I passed on *Night Life* (http://www.amazon.com/Night-Life-Laurie-Anderson/dp/3865213391/), thinking that it would be something I'd browse for fifteen minutes and then put on the shelf.

In this interview:

...Laurie explains that she was almost going to be the narrator for the opening ceremony at the 2004 Summer Olympics at Athens!

"Q. Tell us about Greece and the Olympics. You were working in Athens with the Olympics team for, what, a year and a half?

LA Yeah. Actually I wasn’t able to talk about any of this when it was happening but it was amazing. They asked me to work on writing the opening ceremony and also to be the narrator. You know, the one who welcomes the world to Athens. So I went back and forth to Athens a lot for about a year. And I got to work with all these amazing Greeks-- writers, designers, choreographers. I just have to say, first of all, they’re a lot smarter than we are. They’re sharper, they’ve got sharper tools, they’ve got a sharper language. They just do. It’s more elegant, it’s more complicated, it’s more complex. And I’m someone in love with English. But I was really aware that they came from the people who invented virtually everything that our civilization is based on-- philosophy, geometry, physics, tragedy, sculpture, painting.

So it was – such a long story- a wonderful experience to work on making something with them. The top secret aspect was also a lot of the fun. I could never tell my friends where I was going-- I’d just disappear. Then last December there was a big money crunch and, sad to say, I was among the casualties so I didn’t get to be the narrator in the end."

ernestp, Sunday, 16 August 2009 16:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Huh. If "Nothing In My Pockets" is anything like "The Ugly One With The Jewels", I'm in.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 17 August 2009 00:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

I adore Ugly One with the Jewels.

Alex in NYC, Monday, 17 August 2009 01:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

I adore Ugly One with the Jewels.

Yes, precisely. So has anyone heard the "Nothing In My Pockets" CDs that can give a pocket review?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 17 August 2009 02:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

"Music for Dogs"

(5 min of a 20 min piece, according to what i can tell)

an outlet to express the dark invocations of (La Lechera), Saturday, 5 June 2010 17:39 (eight years ago) Permalink

I adore "O Superman" & the disc she did with Lou Reed & John Zorn.

The rest of the things I've heard (which, granted, is only about half of her releases) have varied from pretentious & boring to boring & pretentious, with a few interesting cuts scattered about.

ImprovSpirit, Monday, 7 June 2010 15:50 (eight years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

I just heard "Mister Heartbreak"; neither that nor "Big Science" are pretentious or boring (maybe "O Superman" aside). Honestly I'm not really sold on her but those albums are pretty interesting throughout. I'm not really a fan of her singing voice but I could probably listen to her read the phonebook all day.

frogbs, Monday, 28 March 2011 17:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

I love Mister Heartbreak — for me it fits into that circa 84-85 era of digital-based art pop like The Dreaming and Sakamoto's Esperanto. The sound of those records haven't been disinterred as being retroactively "cool" (yet, anyway).

corey, Monday, 28 March 2011 17:22 (seven years ago) Permalink


corey, Monday, 28 March 2011 17:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

i love at least half of mister heartbreak. the half with "blue lagoon".

difficult listening hour, Monday, 28 March 2011 17:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

I like a few things cumulatively on both albums but I still prefer Strange Angels to either one.

Rich Lolwry (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 28 March 2011 17:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

No one's heard "Nothing In My Pockets" (linked above)?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 28 March 2011 20:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

I went to see her at a free outdoor show at Lincoln Ctr last week... Music about what I expected, enjoyed the jaundiced words about how NYC has been replaced by an entirely different city in the last 10 years ("tech conventions and cupcake shops"). Some very timely siren intrusions too.

Also had never heard her Willie Nelson quote, "99% of the world ends up with the wrong person, and that's what keeps the jukebox spinning." (And then she brought out Lou Reed.)

satan club sandwich (Dr Morbius), Monday, 15 August 2011 20:21 (seven years ago) Permalink


tylerw, Monday, 15 August 2011 20:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Free show as part of Luminato tonight. All I knew going in was "O Superman" (perplexing), and I think I played a song or two from Strange Angels on the radio years ago. I just figured she'd be worth seeing.

There were a couple of pretty songs, but the one she opened with was excruciating--"Greetings from the Homeland," I think it was called. Went on forever--20 minutes at least.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2013 04:45 (five years ago) Permalink

All I really knew was "O Superman" before I saw her recent collaboration with Kronos Quartet a little while back. Eh, it was ok.

I see she has a new collaboration going:


“Ai Weiwei asked me to write some songs with him a few months ago,” said

curmudgeon, Monday, 17 June 2013 14:19 (five years ago) Permalink

you guys need to listen to 'big science' at least, it's one of the best albums ever. i've never been able to get into the rest of her stuff as much but that one is a classic (it's the one with 'o superman')

congratulations (n/a), Monday, 17 June 2013 15:17 (five years ago) Permalink

otm, big science is beyond essential -- haven't been nearly as knocked out by anything else I've heard her do (though there are good moments), but that one is a universe of its own.

tylerw, Monday, 17 June 2013 15:19 (five years ago) Permalink

The Ugly One with the Jewels is 100% awesome from start to finish. Anderson in full-on storytelling mode with Eno on synths backing her up.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 17 June 2013 15:47 (five years ago) Permalink

nevermind, Eno was on Bright Red, not Ugly One with the Jewels... still.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 17 June 2013 15:49 (five years ago) Permalink

Nah ugly is def eno too i think?

sjuttiosju_u (wins), Monday, 17 June 2013 16:01 (five years ago) Permalink

I <3 Laurie. If it came down to a sophies choice between her and wifey Lou I'd pick Anderson in half a heartbeat just for united states, big science & assorted highlights

sjuttiosju_u (wins), Monday, 17 June 2013 16:04 (five years ago) Permalink

I saw the Luminato thing as well, about the same reaction as clemenza. Enjoyed the instrumental passages far more than the lengthy attempted Skype collaboration. I did like the occasional sounds of helicopters hovering in the background.

pauls00, Monday, 17 June 2013 16:05 (five years ago) Permalink

Ugly One is a mixtape-making dream come true.

Not Simone Choule (Eric H.), Monday, 17 June 2013 16:08 (five years ago) Permalink


lols lane (Eazy), Tuesday, 18 June 2013 03:43 (five years ago) Permalink

Home of the Brave extremely formative for me, hard to imagine anyone not enjoying listening to this

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 18 June 2013 05:32 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm gonna give Big Science another try. I like it but I'm a Strange Angels stan.

A deeper shade of lol (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 18 June 2013 12:17 (five years ago) Permalink

I am OK with Big Science but think United States is where it's at

align="justify" font="ancient" (flamboyant goon tie included), Tuesday, 18 June 2013 12:58 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

Bunch of bizarre old LA PSAs!


Josh in Chicago, Monday, 4 November 2013 03:34 (five years ago) Permalink

my dad always use 2 tok abt hr...... bt a on a vln bow

color definition point of "beyond "color, eg a transient that, Monday, 4 November 2013 03:35 (five years ago) Permalink


color definition point of "beyond "color, eg a transient that, Monday, 4 November 2013 03:36 (five years ago) Permalink


color definition point of "beyond "color, eg a transient that, Monday, 4 November 2013 03:36 (five years ago) Permalink

taebtraeh ym ot netsil

Hideous Lump, Monday, 4 November 2013 03:45 (five years ago) Permalink


forbz (Matt P), Monday, 4 November 2013 03:49 (five years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

from June, on "Hamilton": "It's history lite. It's musical lite. It's just...just horrible."


The Hon. J. Piedmont Mumblethunder (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 September 2016 14:52 (two years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Was unaware until recently that she had made a CD-ROM game in the mid 90's.


JoeStork, Thursday, 20 April 2017 04:28 (one year ago) Permalink

That's so cool, thanks for sharing

Carlotta's Portrait (Ross), Thursday, 20 April 2017 06:36 (one year ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

"The Big Top" is really doing it for me lately.

Cities with...no basements
No foundations
Cities that could be moved in a minute
Portable cities
Portable towns

JoeStork, Friday, 19 May 2017 23:31 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah that's top 10

"The Canadians took this very seriously" one of her best punchlines

in a soylent whey (wins), Saturday, 20 May 2017 11:03 (one year ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

Great list

Unchanging Window (Ross), Monday, 19 June 2017 03:30 (one year ago) Permalink

No "Blue Lagoon"? It's such a beautiful fever dream.

Hideous Lump, Monday, 19 June 2017 03:40 (one year ago) Permalink

Or Another Day In America which includes one of Anderson's best lyrics

And you know the reason I really love the stars is that we cannot hurt them
We can't burn them or melt them or make them overflow. We can't flood them or blow them up or turn them out
But we are reaching for them
We are reaching for them

Unchanging Window (Ross), Monday, 19 June 2017 04:13 (one year ago) Permalink

^^^ top-notch lyrics, there she nails it!

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Monday, 19 June 2017 12:48 (one year ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Touring :)

kolakube (Ross), Wednesday, 7 February 2018 20:55 (one year ago) Permalink

she's kind of always touring something around these days, often variations on one show. but is she doing shows with Kronos in support of Landfall?

akm, Thursday, 8 February 2018 15:23 (one year ago) Permalink

Looks like she's playing shows in support of her new book all the things I lost in the flood. Seems to have also instantly sold out :-/

kolakube (Ross), Thursday, 8 February 2018 15:32 (one year ago) Permalink

Was transfixed by her live show in 1988, how is she now?

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 8 February 2018 15:52 (one year ago) Permalink

I saw her a year or so ago do a "The Language of the Future" show (this is a show that varies a lot apparently) and it was great. Was it as great as Empty Spaces, which was the first thing I saw (probably what you saw in 88)? No, it's much more scaled down. But it was better than that Noah/Whale thing she did in the 90's that I hated.

akm, Thursday, 8 February 2018 15:58 (one year ago) Permalink

Still mesmeric.

"Minneapolis" (barf) (Eric H.), Thursday, 8 February 2018 15:58 (one year ago) Permalink

oh it was moby dick, not noah. whatever.

akm, Thursday, 8 February 2018 16:01 (one year ago) Permalink

a coworker of mine did sound for an artist at the Day for Night fest a couple months ago and got to see Laurie Anderson. he said she was great, a lot of telling stories... anyway at some point in the set, his best friend came up to him and asked to leave because he was bored because she "wasn't playing any of the hits" lmao

having said that... does she play O Superman these days?

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 February 2018 18:08 (one year ago) Permalink

She didn't when I saw her perform.

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Thursday, 8 February 2018 18:54 (one year ago) Permalink

My gf fucking hated her lol. She doesn't like spoken word

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Thursday, 8 February 2018 18:55 (one year ago) Permalink

So do you just sing to her all the time?

"Minneapolis" (barf) (Eric H.), Thursday, 8 February 2018 18:57 (one year ago) Permalink

no I don't think she's done o superman since United States. .... maybe she did a restrospective show at one point, not sure.

akm, Thursday, 8 February 2018 19:27 (one year ago) Permalink

She performed o superman on the post 9-11 live in New York album

scrüt (wins), Thursday, 8 February 2018 19:29 (one year ago) Permalink

I've posted about this before, but she did O Superman here literally on the night of 9/11.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 8 February 2018 19:30 (one year ago) Permalink

only live recordings of O Superman i've found are from those 2001 shows

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 February 2018 19:30 (one year ago) Permalink

This is what Greg Kot wrote in 2013 (I was his +1 at this show):

On the night of Sept. 11, 2001, Laurie Anderson decided to go ahead with her scheduled performance at Park West, even though her city had been devastated earlier that day. Here's my Tribune review of that performance.

It was one of those moments "when everything changes," Laurie Anderson sang, in a voice that sounded like she was narrating a documentary: Slightly detached, pleasant in its lilting enunciation, yet ominous. "But you don't know yet, whether it's for the better or the worse."

Nothing would be the same after Tuesday, and everyone at the Park West that night -- most especially Anderson -- knew it. Her songs, some of them written as many as 20 years ago, were eerily evocative of a collective mood that desperately cried out for some sort of public expression.

The staging was stark and somber, in contrast to the multimedia extravaganzas of past Anderson tours. The singer, dressed in black and flanked by three brilliant musicians who conjured atmospheres that exquisitely suited her songs, was in tune with her listeners. She set out to help them make sense of a world that had suddenly, shockingly lost its bearings.

In times of crisis, we look to our artists not necessarily to provide answers, but to give shape and dimension to the doubts and anxieties washing over us. Their work can be a balm or a purge, an acknowledgment that our private fears are shared by others.

That is why Anderson's concert Tuesday was not only welcome, but necessary. Throughout the entire nation, on a day when terrorist attacks reduced many of us to a stunned silence, public performances of any kind were at a premium. But Anderson's instincts were correct: It is far preferable to face the unspeakable together, especially if the artist in question is up to the task, and she was.

The Park West was packed for this homecoming by the 54-year-old native of Glen Ellyn, and she immediately addressed the harsh reality of the day, dedicating the 105-minute performance "to all those who have died today."

It was a straightforward, dignified remark, and it set the tone for what followed: a performance that avoided pathos or melodrama, or too-obvious song selections such as her harrowing "From the Air," yet struck exactly the right chord of empathy and awareness, longing and humor.

The resonance and sturdiness of Anderson's songwriting was put to the test, and it did not falter. Her great themes aren't particularly unique: the intersection of humanity and technology, the price of progress, and the loss of our identity and freedom. But she invests them with quirky insight, haunted musicality and depth of feeling that make her more than just a performance artist coldly tinkering with her high-tech gadgets.

She opened with a melancholy instrumental, performed on violin, with funeral bells chiming and Skuli Sverrisson's bass tracing a path to "Statue of Liberty," chilling in its appropriateness: "Freedom is a scary thing," Anderson sang, "so precious, so easy to lose."

The same was true of "Strange Angels," and its chant of "here they come, here they come," with Sverrisson's bass figures taking on the role of a second voice. For Anderson, who has performed many of her concerts solo backed by intense multimedia sound and imagery, the presence of a band so sensitive to her needs was appropriate and oddly comforting. Only when the music became more strident, approaching the cadences and tempos of conventional rock, did it fail to impress. Mostly, Sverrisson, percussionist Jim Black and keyboardist Peter Scherer were concerned with coloring in the spaces behind Anderson's minimalist keyboards, violin and sing-speak vocals, and they did so beautifully.

Before the austerity became too oppressive, the house lights briefly came on and Anderson suggested the audience draw pictures of her so that she could sell them at her next tour stop. "Good luck with your drawings!" she cheerfully said as pencils and paper were passed out. It was difficult not to laugh at the absurdity, which was precisely the point. She also broke up several songs with spoken-word interludes, which had the earmarks of fables, twisted bedtime stories or nursery rhymes for grownups.

When Anderson got back to business, the concert found its emotional center. "O Superman" remains one of the great compositions of the last two decades, a terrifying portrait of trust, security and love misplaced that Anderson performed solo at her keyboard, the electronically altered beats a cross between rhythmic breathing and a dehumanized last gasp. It was followed by "Slip Away," which sounds like an agnostic's postmodern response to the bluegrass Bible-belt masterpiece "O Death."

With "Love Among the Sailors," Anderson pulled all the threads together, and brought the audience to its feet. The last verse bears repeating, because it so eloquently gave voice to what so many must have been feeling on this day: violated, threatened, but still somehow yearning for community.

“There is a hot wind blowing

Plague drifts across the oceans

And if this is the work of an angry god

I want to look into his angry face

There is no pure land now, no safe place

Come with us into the mountains

Hombres. Sailors. Comrades.”

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 8 February 2018 19:36 (one year ago) Permalink

Landfall album is streaming now on NPR:


erry red flag (f. hazel), Thursday, 8 February 2018 22:46 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

How about landfall eh

Ross, Wednesday, 9 May 2018 20:34 (ten months ago) Permalink

little overlong - were only human

Ross, Wednesday, 9 May 2018 21:12 (ten months ago) Permalink

landfall is OK (I'm kind of over the kronos quartet in general) but her current live show for the book/album is just in fucking credible. one of the greatest live performances from anyone ever.

kurt schwitterz, Wednesday, 9 May 2018 21:17 (ten months ago) Permalink

"The front cover of the CD has the title Live at Town Hall, New York City September 19–20, 2001, however the official title of the album is just Live in New York." 23 tracks, intense, committed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_in_New_York_(Laurie_Anderson_album)

dow, Wednesday, 9 May 2018 23:47 (ten months ago) Permalink

i saw a plane today
flying low
over the island--
but my mind
was somewhere

difficult listening hour, Monday, 14 May 2018 07:24 (ten months ago) Permalink

Laurie if you're sadly listening

The birds are on fire

The sky glistening

While I atop my roof stand watching

Staring into the spider's clypeus

Incinerated flesh repelling

While I am on the rooftop yearning

Thinking of you

Laurie if you're sadly listening

Selfishly I miss your missing

The boundaries of our world now


The air is filled with someone's

sick reasons

And I had thought a beautiful

season was

Upon us

Laurie if you're sadly listening

The phones don't work

The bird's afire

The smoke curls black

I'm on the rooftop

Liberty to my right still standing

Laurie evil's gaunt desire is

Upon we

Laurie if you're sadly listening

Know one thing above all others

You were all I really thought of

As the TV blared the screaming

The deathlike snowflakes

Sirens screaming

All I wished was you to be holding

Bodies frozen in time jumping

Bird's afire

One thing me thinking

Laurie if you're sadly listening

Love you

Laurie if you're sadly listening

Love you

flappy bird, Monday, 14 May 2018 17:52 (ten months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

Thanks flappy bird. Here's what I scratched out just now, with heaphones on, during my maiden voyage through Landfalland vice-versa:

Xgau not that into it but he not likely for chamber setting even w more words vocal shading ditto electronic than he mentions: some tough, gorgeous, tensile levels of blues is a feeling stuff, prismatic searchlight watchlight in the ceiling, the dipper filling and dipping again---as compelling in its way as heart of a Dog
How they built it

dow, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 23:13 (nine months ago) Permalink

Building another story, sure as Heart of a Dog.

dow, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 23:15 (nine months ago) Permalink

Still haven’t got through landfall as it’s so ducking long

Slippage (Ross), Tuesday, 12 June 2018 23:36 (nine months ago) Permalink

Poem up there by Lou Reed was in the NYT on 10/9/01 - https://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/11/magazine/songs-for-the-city-laurie-sadly-listening.html

flappy bird, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 04:44 (nine months ago) Permalink

six months pass...

Any SF residents get to see the Lou Reed drones concert in Nov? A recording has just surfaced, 4 hours!

MaresNest, Saturday, 12 January 2019 19:42 (two months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

i saw laurie anderson last night for the first time! i hope to see her again soon. she played quite a bit of stuff from what i assume was her latest album (and first Grammy winner) Landfall. i have to assume because i sto;; haven't heard Landfall, but i know it's a chamber orchestra based album (which won her a first grammy, too), the artwork projected behind resembles the cover of Landfall, and she played as a duo with a cellist. the show alternated between these beautifully performed duets (his cello and her electric violin) and her more familiar synth and vocoder songs, spoken-word pieces, stories and jokes. at the beginning she played a story by her recently deceased chicago wordsmith friend ken nordine over the speakers, before asking everyone to honor yoko ono's 82nd birthday by screaming as loudly as possible for 10 seconds (my throat still hurts).

i was amazed at how adeptly she created a dreamlike web of circling repetition throughout the evening. alternating pieces with the string duets helped, but there were also funnies stories about writing to jack kennedy as a child for advice about how to run for student council, to be referenced much later in the show with references to "jack" and promising to people whatever it is they want. i would recognize certain snippets of songs, but they seemed to be reappropriated and mixed together with other songs. sometimes dreams themselves were referenced - And ah, these days. Oh, these days / What are days for? / To wake us up, to put between the endless nights - or a warning to never tell anyone about your dreams, because they make you sound insane because they never make any sense. it's hard to explain, but it was mesmerizing.

at the end she talked a bit about lou reed and performed some tai chi.

about an hour after her show i was walking around the museum, checking out some "soundscapes" (actually just pairs of speakers) and ran across her doing an encore performance in the spot where the stars of the lid soundscape was supposed to be:


Karl Malone, Tuesday, 19 February 2019 03:35 (one month ago) Permalink

sorry for typos. tl;dr she really is a treasure, we're lucky we still have her. everyone should go see her if you haven't already

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 19 February 2019 03:38 (one month ago) Permalink

that sounds amazing! every time I've seen her perform over the years it's been magical.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 19 February 2019 04:02 (one month ago) Permalink

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