David Bowie envisaged various projects to continue and expand the 1.Outside concept. He indicated that it was the first part of a five-album cycle, leading up to the end of the century, although this was later scaled back to a trilogy.
There was also to have been a CD-ROM version of 1.Outside, which was originally mooted for 1996, although it is not known whether it was ever completed or even begun.
Overall, a long-term ambition is to make it a series of albums extending to 1999 – to try to capture, using this device, what the last five years of this millennium feel like. It’s a diary within a diary. The narrative and the stories are not the content – the content is the spaces in between the linear bits. The queasy, strange, textures.
Ikon, October 1995
In addition to the sequel albums, Bowie spoke of an operatic version to be staged at the 1999 Salzburg Festival. This was to have been a collaboration with Brian Eno and theatre director Robert Wilson but, as with so many of Bowie’s ambitions, it came to nothing.
In a 1999 press conference held in Paris to promote Hours, Bowie said: “The opera with Wilson is still in the air, but Robert and I will work on it when we know we can do it right with enough time ahead.”
However, it later emerged that personal differences with the festivals director, Gerard Mortier, put paid to the project, with Mortier reportedly failing to agree to finance Bowie’s elaborate set design.
Later in 1999 Mortier was quoted by Belgian magazine Humo as saying: “Even my good friend Bianca Jagger tried to negotiate but it seemed to be impossible to get Bowie to work for me for three weeks, even for half a million dollars.”
I think at the back of my mind is the possibility of Tony [multimedia artist Tony Oursler, director of the ‘Where Are We Now?’ video] working with Eno and I on the theatrical presentation of Outside and Contamination and what hopefully will be a third piece. His visual vocabulary is very similar to my own. And we get on extremely well whenever we do theatrical ventures together. I know there was talk of it being presented at Salzburg, Austria but I didn’t get on with the artistic director there at all. It was rather gratifying to hear that he was removed from the festival this year!
Yahoo! Halloween web chat
The second album was to have been titled 2.Contamination. Bowie spoke of the project several times during Q&As with fans. In 1998 answered a query about his future projects by saying:
No, the proposed Visconti album is a quite separate thing to the due-anytime-but-probably-not-for-a-while follow up to Outside. It will still be called Contamination though. Reeves and I have sort of started writing a number of new ideas down, in batches of styles so I think we’ll pick on one or another batch and that will become the basis for the Visconti project.
In 1999 he claimed that just he and Eno might be the only musicians on a future instalment. This may have been given the proposed title 3. Afrikaans, although this was more likely a fan concoction.
Brian and I formulated the story and decided to do the album with no other musicians, and not to meet while doing it. The music is going to be so very avant-garde that I didn’t want to lay it on my band! We’re still a couple of numbers short, but the theme is going to be incurable diseases. Diseases from ‘the Hot Zone area’ like Ebola, Aids and that new Tuberculosis that nobody knows what to do about. Those are our greatest enemies right now…
We’re going to get even more esoteric. Art with a capital A!
In February that year, a fake tracklisting emerged online for an imaginary 2.Contamination bootleg, along with artwork and a fan-written instalment of the Nathan Adler diary. The non-existent tracks were:
- ‘Segue – A Brief Inquisition’
- ‘Ebola Jazz’
- ‘A Fragmented Line’
- ‘The Hive Of No Desire’
- ‘Segue – The Mad Ramblings of Long Beard’
- ‘Ill Refute’
- ‘A Tribe From The Ghost Plains’
- ‘Drawing A Blank’
- ‘Serengetti Song’
- ‘Segue – The Fever Is Still’
- ‘Dream Child’
- ‘Crazed In The Hot Zone’
- ‘Verona No More’
- ‘The Only Part Of My Days
In November 1999, when asked about his future plans, Bowie again spoke of plans to work again with Tony Visconti. Their collaboration would become 2002’s Heathen. Bowie alsowan mentioned a focus on writing prose, as well as the intention to go through the Contamination material.
I am taking quite a bit of time off in the oncoming years specifically for the purpose of writing up any number of ideas that I have been picking over for the last while, including some straight prose.
And I’ll also be slowly sifting through the 2. Contamination tapes to see what is there (over 20 hrs!!!) and look at the possibilities for the next in the series.
Plus I’ll be working throughout the year with Tony Visconti on a project that has ‘no name’ at the moment. So basically I’ll be putting in a hell of a lot of creative time over the next while and, frankly, I’m very excited about it.
The following year, before work commenced on Heathen, Bowie spoke of returning to 2.Contamination.
Folks. I seriously hope that we can begin this after the Visconti album. I think the most daunting aspect of Contamination, other than the itching, is the fact that there is hours and hours and hours of sifting to do through the tapes that we recorded, some of them going back to 1994. But it will be a reality.
Yahoo! Halloween web chat
In the same month that he recorded demos for Heathen at Visconti’s home studio, Bowie revealed that he had mixed some of the 2.Contamination recordings.
This is hard to believe (heh heh heh), but nothing has gotten lost. Contamination will be one of the many pieces that I will release over time. It’s just that my time has gone all elastic…
I must say that playing back and doing initial idea mixes on the Contamination material, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how completely nutty it sounds. I’m determined to get it out this millennium.
BowieNet webchat, 4 June 2001
The Leon Suites leaked in 2003, the year Bowie put out Reality and embarked on his lengthy final tour. By that time Bowie’s enthusiasm for 2.Contamination was evidently waning, and he indicated that it had been abandoned altogether.
We did record an awful lot of stuff, and there really was every intention of going through it and putting out Part II and Part III. The second title was Contamination, and boy was that accurate. And it would have been nice to have somehow done it as a theatrical trilogy. I just don’t have the patience. I think Brian would have the patience.
SOMA, July 2003
The tour ended with serious health issues, and Bowie retreated from the public eye, emerging only sporadically until 2013’s The Next Day. It is not known how much, if any, work was done on the Montreux recordings during that time, but nothing was officially released during Bowie’s lifetime.
I can’t even get started doing the next stuff on it. All together we have 25, maybe 26, hours of recorded music from that period. I keep moving on too fast. Nobody would take Outside when we first recorded it. It was held back for a year until we could find somebody to distribute it in America and by that time my enthusiasm was pretty thin on the ground. By the time it did come out I’d already started writing for Earthling. My attention span is incredibly short.
New Zealand Herald, 26 June 1999