Friday, January 8, 2016

David Bowie - 'Blackstar' & 'Lazarus' from Blackstar (2016)

Happy Birthday David Bowie!!! There is so much going on in David Bowie's 'Blackstar', both in song and video, that it seems impossible to collate into a brief summary or description, but the overall approach to his new music seems to be derived from collaboration with semi-improvised jazz and is most in tune with his mid-70's r&b/soul phase and, to an equal extent, his 90's drum & bass experiments. 'Blackstar' moves in and out of jittery funk, sax noise, Bowie Soul and some crazy-elaborate sci-fi world-building, which continues in the video full-throttle, involving religious rites around a skeletonized astronaut relic (Major Tom is that you?)on a world alien to us where there is a sacred candle and a priestess-clan and maybe a blind seer, played by Bowie himself with a crypto-David-Lynch haircut. Everything about this is as epic as it gets, but the music itself is made up of discrete movements which lock into each other, and small repeated parts, which throw off anxiety only to be absorbed into Thin White Duke Slow Disco Balladeering. It really is quite a performance. 'Lazarus' is a slower, more pensive number, run-through with guitar distortion and plaintive, questioning saxophone, but no less nervous than 'Blackstar'. The song's themes of oblivious dissociation/delusion in the face of imminent potential collapse are readily represented vocally/sonically/visually. Bowie's Blind Seer returns, operated or manipulated or assisted or all three via witch-action under his bed, under his desk, troubling his dreams, disabling sleep and giving inspiration. (Note: I was wrong, like really wrong in my interpretation of 'Lazarus'. What I thought was dissociation and obliviousness to imminent destruction was a coming-to-inevitable-terms, by any means necessary, and finding peace within that process) I haven't listened to any of the other songs off of Blackstar yet because I want to hear the album in full, but seeing the videos as extensions of each other, continuations of the same tale in relation to how the songs seem part of a larger whole, makes me super-excited for the full reveal. I loved the last Bowie album, The Next Day, but this one looks to be even better. I haven't read any press or reviews really about it yet. Maybe I will do so now, but I wanted to get a feel for the singles first. And once again, Happy Birthday David Bowie! It feels good to say that.

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