Today, on his 69th birthday, David Bowie has released his 27th studio album, Blackstar, also known as ★. The LP features seven songs spanning 41 minutes, and was produced by Tony Visconti. It was recorded at The Magic Shop in New York City.
Musicians on the album include David Bowie, Donny McCaslin (flute, saxophone, woodwinds), Ben Monder (guitar), Jason Lindner (piano, organ, keyboards), Tim Lefebvre (bass), Mark Guiliana (drums, percussion), and James Murphy (percussion), founder of LCD Soundsystem.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Visconti revealed that rapper Kendrick Lamar was an influence in the creation of Blackstar:
We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar. We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn't do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that's exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.
The album kicks off with the nearly 10 minute title track, which was originally more than 11 minutes long, but trimmed down to 9:58 partly due to an iTunes policy that states no single over 10 minutes can be for sale. Visconti told Rolling Stone, "It's total bullshit. But David was adamant it be the single, and he didn't want both an album version and a single version, since that gets confusing."
The rest of the songs mix elements of electronica, jazz influenced rock, and sprinkles of hip hop. It's an adventurous album where every song is a character of it's own, and puts Bowie's eclectic songwriting brilliance on full display. It would be a disservice and insult to try to categorize any of these songs into a specific category, because there are so many different elements happening in each one.
The cast of musicians Bowie gathered for this album should not be overlooked, as horns contribute a dynamic jazzy element in "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore," "Lazarus," and "Dollar Days."
"Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)", originally released as a single in 2014, has been reworked here with guitar for a more rock oriented feel.
For the latest music, news, and tour dates from David Bowie, check out his Zumic artist page.