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David Bowie - Blackstar CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.48 | 462 ratings

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5 stars Mournfully woeful, the Bowie star slowly fades into dark matter, a final testimony to his art and his rather unique place in the musical constellation. Going over all his chameleon-like alterations/variations would be pedant and utterly boring, definitely not urban chic, a trait David owned in spades. Personally, I deeply enjoyed the decidedly prog-rock leanings of '1.Outside', an anti-pop testament from a pop artist who ruled this contradiction with few rivals! Blackstar shimmers in shivering galactic sheen, before evolving into a tortuous interstellar dirge, complete with Nik Turner-like sax squawks, bubbly synths and a vocal that transcends space oddity and hunky dory time. Major Tom in a NASA capsule.

The man who sold the world lands back on earth and wanders straight into some futuristic bordello, screaming 'saxual' bondage and whiplash beat, surrounded by pin ups and diamond dogs, your typical distorted young American masquerading as a lad somewhat insane. 'Tis a pity she was a whore' is not a misogynist statement but rather a personally profound regret, perhaps for having lived a life full of scary monsters and low heroes (Ziggy, Duke, Sane, Earthling etc..) and indulging in transgender exploration, bending rules and preconceived notions.

'Lazarus' is quite the 21st century ballad, a lovely song coated in alleged sweetness but really more menacing and bittersweet, just barely below the surface. It hit me quite quickly how much it has a spiritual resemblance to Porcupine Tree's classic song of the same name, Prog-pop songs that exude feeling and 'scars that can't be seen', a tremendous lullaby of magnificence and despair. David's vocal is transcending, egged along by a poignant saxophone spread, courtesy of Donny McCaslin. The moody outro is pure gold, gentle and exalted.

Hey, let's dance a bit with 'Sue' because David of Suburbia will never let you down, even if he is the only DJ, but tonight it's in a decadent, dissonant and a paranoid club, where everyone is wearing black ties but have no faces, surrounded by white noise and an absolutely wicked percussive back beat. Intense, corrosive, ashen, the arrangement is a musical Polaroid of instant gratification (they do something in the weeds), a dizzying palette of oddity that somehow makes the skin crawl, as he intones 'soon goodbye'. Eerie! This is not Donna Summer but Sue.

Kindergarten-like recitation appears with obsessive 'Girl Loves Me', another swirling, drum-punched, bass sweltered and echo-laden voice masterpiece. Ding-ding! Troubling material, Heathen reality. Just like the next day offers a new sun, sweeping relief comes with the symphonic 'Dollar Days', a gorgeously orchestrated and lovingly sung track that expresses David's sweet side, 'never seeing the English evergreens' as Donny does his finest Andy Mackay tribute on sax, blowing mighty and sweaty. This segues straight into the last song, the finale 'I Can't Give Everything' , a perfect cover to consider for Bryan Ferry, Martin Fry, David Gahan, Jim Kerr, Bono and the hundreds of emotional singers out there.

Finally, the drum work here really stands out, a brazen blend of rock pummeling and jazzy twists, giving very track a pulse, a beat, perhaps knowing full well that the motor will soon pause into park. Mark Guiliana is a stellar stick man. Freddie and Davie can now sing Ashes to Ashes without sounding prophetic or feeling Under Pressure. Legends live on eternal . RIP

5 'toiles noires

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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