Album Review: David Bowie, Blackstar
No interviews, no tour, no explanations. Yes, David Bowie is back and the head scratching will begin.
In a bewildering and unsettling return, Bowie uses all the tropes at his disposal, drama, tension, lyrical obliqueness, inscrutability and skittish studio skulduggery, forcing the listener on a journey that demands attention to detail, a Sherlock Holmes-ian ability to decipher clues and yet marvel at how a 69-year-old can conjure up something so radically new that only the shaking of the head will suffice.
The videos offer no clue, other than a sense of manipulation is being applied. It's either quite barmy or Twyla Tharp has met Bertolt Brecht, or maybe it's the album Scott Walker has been trying to make all these years.
Neil McCormick, genial host of television's Needle Time, has said it best when he described Bowie's voice as being "teeth-gritted, tight-chested whisper of a vocal".
Certainly for all of its mysteries, hints of previous Bowie albums remain; there is something of the Berlin years here, taut, on the edge and brittle.