Saturday, 30 January 2016

David Bowie - Blackstar

(January 8th, 2016, ISO Records, Columbia, Sony Music)

I know that maybe David Bowie isn’t the best topic for this blog. He’s mainstream, famous, and his work isn’t from the depths of the sonic underworld. But I just couldn’t resist. I couldn’t resist not to write a review of his newest album. Not only because it’s great but also, sadly, because this genius musician, and one of my biggest personal heroes died just after he released it. I want to give him a little homage with this review. He deserved it by influencing me throughout  big part of my life. I loved his music since I met it, and I will until my death.
   New album, Blackstar, welcomes us with its ascetic graphical style. On front cover is –surprise!- a black star. This is the only album of Bowie, where on front of it isn’t his photo… Well, technically, because in the vinyl version his photo is exactly within the black star. Speaking of the vinyl version, it is very worth buying the album in this format. It’s just beautiful and very enjoyable to see such well issued album in a collection. You can feel that you’re holding last album of one of the greatest musicians in the history of rock. Hard to feel disappointed...

   Bowie didn’t want to stay in safe boundaries, and his last album is full of his signature signs – changing the genres as easy as gloves, marrying many styles and giving them his special touch, which make, even most complicated music, easy and catchy listen. He always knew how to make complicated things sound easy. So, we have here a little mishmash of krautrock, fusion, jazz, classic pop and even slight influence of rap. In my opinion, the most heartbreaking track on the album is "Lazarus". Reflections of death, gentle saxophone and vocals full of pain... The best recipe for a beautiful song. I also love the fantastic title song, the most krautrock-ish track on the album, where Bowie shows his avant-garde side in all it’s glory. It’s really unbelievable. However, writing about the songs individually doesn’t make any sense. Mostly because whole album is surprisingly balanced. Nothing is really standing out from the rest, no bad songs at all. Well, to be honest, I would like a more powerful ending than "I Can’t Give Everything Away". But that’s just fine. It’s still good song, and this is just a little “fly in the ointment “.
   In stylistic way, Blackstar is closest to Bowie’s industrial experiment from 1995 – 1. Outside, but Blackstar is more subdued and calmed down. You can really feel the wiseness of an old man reflecting upon his fate after death. There are experiments, but nothing really mad. And that’s good. Mad times are gone. A Lad Insane isn’t immortal. This album also needs more than only one listen if you want to discover all its special spices and tastes. This definitely isn’t easy listening despite what people say about Bowie. But, to be frank, maybe it’s just my excuse to listen it all over again, and again, and again. Because I just can’t let go of this album and since it came out I listen to it every day. But I don’t see anything wrong in it… It’s probably one of the best Bowie’s albums ever. After some years, it’ll be another classic from his discography and I’m proud that I own this one. The only question is... where are we now? Will we find another genius as Bowie? Time will tell... Bowie learns the patience, so let’s wait, shall we?

- Tomek

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