11 April 2016

David Bowie - 2016 - Blackstar Videos

For better or for worse, I haven't been ramping up a whole lot of the psychedelic obscurities recently.  Mostly grooving to the Beatles, Bowie, Gas, and listening through my new recordings on the trippier end.  So let's take a look at that Bowie.  I'm probably a few months late on this, but this is one of the few celebrity deaths that legitimately bummed me out. As you probably imagine, I never had an interaction with the Man, but my shitty high school punk band did play on the same stage that I caught my sole Bowie concert on a few months later - at least a fun connection for me (Atlanta's International Ballroom for the "Earthling" tour).  The "Blackstar" album is phenomenal - it's an unprecedented late-career masterpiece and I think it may be second only to "Low" in Bowie's catalog.  While ditching your long-time band for experimental jazzmen sounds like a prick move, it seems to have reignited the exploratory instinct of the classic 70's albums.  I've given the mystical, morality-facing album deep listening that I usually only reserve for stuff like the Beach Boys' "Smile" The Beatles "White Album," or, well, Bowie's "Low."  But I'm not going to target this as an album review (quality 5 ; trip-o-meter 4.5 I guess for the quick version).  Let's take a look at the phenomenal videos instead.

Gave a half-attention listening before news of Bowie's passing and thought the second song was cool - but it was just the core of "Blackstar" and when the first half returned I was surprised to be greeted by a "Station to Station" style epic.  I knew Bowie was going for absolute top form when I first heard the synth at 7:06 zoom in.  In the filmic sense, we are observing a strange convergence of Kenneth Anger,  Labyrinth, and weird, obscure Crowley-style Satanism blasting through the cosmic veil with just hint of hip-strutting disco to bring in the funk.  I'm pretty skeptical of releases from the old fogies, but this tune pretty well catapulted into my top five Bowie tunes.  This is an epic, dark sci-fi trip that you should undertake.

This one seems to have picked up most of the attention as a death note, and it is a strong one, but it doesn't quite hit the nexus button of subconscious that "Blackstar" did.  The track is definitely cool, with deranged electric guitar blast spazzed out by the Man himself.  Much smaller scale but well thought out, the button-eyed man returns to cringe on his deathbed.  The emaciated, dying Thin White Duke is quite a site, morbidly creeping back into his closet.  It's an amazing acknowledgement and exploitation of mortal decay, but ultimately a bad ass rebellion against said decay.  I'm knicking the idea from some clickbait article that I read, but I agree that the most profound image here is of our Thin White duke furiously scrawling his ideas and falling off of the desk, unable to express everything he desired with the little time that remained

A few days ago I read that although the Man is gone, we were getting a "lyric" video, which doesn't sound like much.  Of course there is no footage of a man who has left this moral coil, but we surprisingly get a painless syringe of metaphysic DMT injected directly into the eyeball. Yeah, (some) of the lyrics end up on screen, but what is important is the bizarre fusion of black-and-white imagery from Metropolis, vintage Flash Gordon, and Aladdin Sane eventually bursting into a cascade of insane VHS colour that concludes by sending Major Tom on his final trip though the cosmos.  Although on a completely different track, the only other lyric video I like was for the Lonely Island's "Semicolon."

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