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David Bowie - Blackstar CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.52 | 284 ratings

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5 stars David Bowie ? Blackstar (2016)

I was impressed by the dark video clip of Blackstar at first glance and like many others I though of it as artistic, rather then foreboding. Before buying the vinyl myself the news came out of his death and the Blackstar record, which had already caused a buzz, really started to reveal its definitive significance. This is a record made by man who knew he was going to die.

Strangely enough, this might just be Bowie's most experimental record in his long career. Opening with one of his darkest songs, going through modern rhythms played acoustically by the brilliant drummer Mark Guiliana, the album goes through frenzies of emotions. Both the raw fact of death and the process of looking back on an interesting life are present. Eventually the album ends with two lighter tracks, thus ending the road towards death in a rather peaceful, consolidating mood. The lyrics reveal a lot about Bowie's inner life, yet I also sense he seized the hour to create a unique artistic vibe that surpasses his own troubles. A bit like a once in a lifetime opportunity to relate to this subject in a way that was not possible before.

During this album, which is about as intense a ride as Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom, almost all tracks are really good in their own unique way. The title track is a great progressive milestone in his career, with a dark & brooming beginning and end. The middle section shows Bowie's endless talent for pop sensibilities that sound modern (and will probably remain so). 't Is a Pitty she was a Whore is a psychedelic track with a modern drumbeat, some eighties pop sounds and fusion like chord buildups. On all tacks we here jazzy wind instruments that often touch the light side of avant-garde jazz. Lazarus is a ballad and perhaps the lyrical crux of this record. Beautiful, sad and deep. On side two, Sue (Or in Season of Crime) is another rhythmical tracks with a dark funky rhythm and nightmarish vocals and lyrics. Girl Loves Me has more pop sensibilities, but drags on a bit. My least favorite song. Dollar Days is a surprisingly light follow up ballad, that reminds us of how Bowie could write these artistic songs suited for radio. Some symphonic touches on this one. On the last track, I can't Give Everything Away, Bowie makes his final statement. An epitaph. A light symphonic and soulful track with a Thieleman's type harmonica in the background and some great wind leads. The title alone would have made it an interesting track.

Conclusion. This album will end up being one of the rare records all music geeks will agree upon; a classic. Among the most memorable of 2016. An artistic milestone in its own right, deepened by the circumstances of his death and the retrospection on the many fruits of his career. Having said that, the record does require at least five plays to really unfold itself. For a classic it is surprisingly complex and moody in a sophisticated way. I can give this the full score. Also recommended to listeners who never cared that much for Bowie before, like me.

friso | 5/5 |


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