Wednesday 13 January 2016

David Bowie - ★ (Blackstar)

Article by Simon Francis Hambrook

"How many times does an Angel fall/How many people lie instead of talking tall?" - 'Blackstar'

This is not exactly a review of an album of course, but a few lines about David Bowie's last gift to us. 'Blackstar' is at once a collection of songs from undoubtedly one of the most visionary artists in history, many would say the most visionary musician, but it is also two films, and essentially a last and parting art masterpiece. For 'Blackstar' is calling us to view it very much as part of his art, and that art does palpably involve us with the very recent occasion of his physical death. In that respect it's almost impossible to find a more profound album really.

For youngish people that may not seem true. Nevertheless, The Cure, The Smiths, The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Nirvana, simply would not have existed the way they did without him, just to name some of the unequivocally and most directly influenced, more credible acts. And without them?

I am not exactly tearful as I write this but there is a sense of strong poignancy here which knows that Bowie affected my life, and others, very, very strongly, and that influence cannot be divorced from 'Blackstar'. It need not be either, for if you really pay it attention this album is masterful, insightful and as emotionally intelligent as it is amazing.

The first forty seconds of 'Lazarus' sound like a genre-beating, surprising, new-breaking record which every radio station could be expected to play, and indeed the whole album speaks for his true ability to sound cool and authentic at 69 years of age. I'm positive no one's ever done that so well before. There's no pretence here either when he references himself in these songs, just his own understanding that he was the artist that he was. If he didn't write about himself in this album it would have actually been very disappointing. It's brilliant to get a final glimmer into his otherworld psyche, it really is…

'Lazarus', 'Dollar Days' and 'Blackstar' are all songs that will easily go in the annals with other hits. 'Blackstar' is also a profound ten-minute long film of course. I've noticed some people (?) are asking why is he wearing bandages and buttons for eyes in these films but the question really is why are people asking this – do they not know who he is!

'Blackstar' - the whole thing is an exploration of destiny within death. A very hard to achieve idea of expression which he has nevertheless achieved brilliantly. In terms of art (as well as music) it leaves me actually pretty speechless.

David Bowie's website

Stream: 'Blackstar'

Buy: 'Blackstar'

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