The first single to appear ahead of Bowie’s twenty-fifth record, out 8 January 2016, ‘Blackstar’ is brilliant and bizarre. A consistently subdued track, the melody unfurls slowly for nearly ten full minutes before transitioning roughly halfway through from a peculiar type of electronic-jazz fusion to the same kind of murmured, lyrically complex ballad that built Bowie’s early career. It is a dramatic shift which is executed naturally, extend- ing ‘Blackstar’s story to its full length without losing our attention.
Eerie and unearthly as ever, Bowie’s vocals make a clean contrast alongside the song’s heavy middle-eastern stylings and occult aesthetic. Modern yet grounded by traditional instrumentation and mythic imagery, the track is deceptively simple and at times mesmerising. It is a style that we have never seen from Bowie before, yet that is precisely what we might expect from him, and while ‘Blackstar’ certainly lacks the accessibility some may prefer, it introduces a record worth anticipating.