On his 69th birthday, the illustrious David Bowie gifts 2016 with his 25th edition of a collection begun way back in 1967. Four out of the seven tracks featured on ‘Blackstar’ have been previously released, forming the opening quartet. Its title track kicking things off in suitably ornate manner as Bowie crows to the audience in pained despair of his identity as this perplexing ‘black star’ status over a backing of theatrical choirs and 80s synth string before layering his own vocal upon itself as though narrating from within a Jean-Paul Sautre play. Its as indulgent as it is egotistical, drawing comparisons to Kate Bush’s bold nine minute opener ‘Snowflake’ from 2011’s ’50 Words for Snow’.
A beat wakens David from his pondering upon B Side ”Tis A Pity She’s A Whore’ as jazz trumpet and organic drum beat patiently await their leading man’s characteristic vocal. Unlike many of his contemporaries with careers of equal longevity, Bowie has managed to maintain those beautifully distinctive tones that evokes imagery of glamorous misconduct. ‘Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)’ is now over 12 months old and although it lead Bowie’s five year collection effectively, it seems to anchor the two sides of ‘Black Star’ exceptionally well with its altered pace and orchestral backbone.
Regardless of Bowie’s reflective nature upon ‘Next Day’ here he is intent on proving his originality has not wavered over a five decade career as ‘Girl Loves Me’ brings string, oboe, clattered drums all to calamitous crescendo lead by their eccentric maestro. The art rock has never left this gifted musician and he commands it now as well as he ever has. For those looking for what they consider classic Bowie, they are treated to ‘Dollar Days’ with a blistering saxophone solo and soothing vocal style reminiscent of the material of ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’. Meanwhile the biographical ‘Lazarus’ from David’s off broadway musical of the same name is potentially the strongest track Bowie has released since the 1990s. Its sonar structure not too dissimilar from Morcheeba . His voice simply shines here like no other spot upon the album, it commands nay demands attention as though the lead takes his spot beneath a single spotlight for the final crippling monologue.
The 25th edition is not be too dissimilar to a piece of theatre, however as one of the most original musicians takes the directorial role there is no consistency, no coherence and very little information of plot or subject matter. Did you really expect anything more from David Bowie? Simply enjoy this silver album, ‘Blackstar’.
We would to say thank you and wish David Bowie’s family and friends our deepest condolences. Good night, Star Man.